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Main provisions of energy legislation pending in Congress

Below are the main provisions of energy legislation pending in Congress. The House of Representatives legislation passed in April. The Senate is debating the bill this week and next.

NUCLEAR

Both bills reauthorize nuclear-liability protections in the event of accidents. Both call for added security at nuclear plants. The Senate would give $280 million in tax incentives over a three-year period. The House offers $1.3 billion in tax deductions over 10 years to nuclear power plant owners. Both would authorize $1.3 billion to build nuclear reactors that would help create hydrogen fuel; the Bush administration says that expense is "premature."

TAX INCENTIVES

House: $8.1 billion over 11 years, mainly for oil and gas exploration and electricity transmission.

Senate: $16 billion over 11 years. It includes $3.5 billion for conservation and energy efficiency.

ELECTRICITY

Both bills repeal the Public Utilities Holding Company Act. Utilities say the act hindered competition. Critics say reduced regulation could hurt consumers.

FUEL ECONOMY

The House authorizes $2 million a year for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to create rules to enforce fuel economy.

The Senate also authorizes $2 million a year for rulemaking. It also requires that Americans reduce oil demand by 1 million barrels by 2015. The Bush administration opposes that provision, saying it would require unrealistic increases in mileage standards.

ARCTIC DRILLING

The House bill authorizes oil exploration in a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The Senate contains no Arctic drilling provision. It has already voted to include such drilling in other pending legislation.

FUEL ADDITIVES

Both bills would phase out use of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), a fuel additive that's contaminated some community water supplies, and increase mandates for use of ethanol in gasoline to improve air quality.

The House bill contains lawsuit protections for producers of MTBE and increases the mandated use of ethanol to 5 billion gallons by 2015.

The Senate bill contains no MTBE provision. It would increase ethanol use to 8 billion gallons by 2015.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Neither bill would restrict emissions of pollutants. The Senate is considering several amendments that would place mandatory restrictions or set voluntary standards for the reduction of pollutants, particularly by coal-fired electricity plants.

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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