"Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is excited. And when Sanders - longtime maverick populist - is in that frame of mind, you know something right and smart is in the works," writes Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation. "In this case it's the Energy Savings Act of 2007, which the Senate is now debating. Sanders is so keen on this legislation because of the opportunity not only to address global warming and energy needs, but also to create millions of new jobs and make sure our workforce has the skills needed to fill them," she added.
Sanders and Senator Hillary Clinton teamed up on the amendment to the comprehensive energy bill, which would increase the production of clean renewable fuels and improve energy efficiency.
"I'm going to do everything I can to make this energy bill as strong as it possibly can be," Sanders said.
"We have to reverse greenhouse gas emissions, move away from fossil fuels into energy efficiency and into sustainable energy. The amendment we passed will provide for the training of thousands of workers who can earn good wages as they get involved in green technology…involved in installing photovoltaic units, wind turbines, and making our homes and offices more energy efficient.
"Also, we've got to be as aggressive as we can in raising CAFE [Corporate Average Fuel Economy] standards. It is absurd that the cars we are driving today get worse mileage per gallon than was the case 20 years ago. The technology is out there to give us cars that get very, very good mileage per gallon.
"Lastly, we have got to address rising gas prices. In my view the oil companies are ripping of the American people while they're making incredible profits. I believe in a windfall profits tax. We'll see what we can do. The opposition will be very strong but consumers in this country need protection from these huge oil companies."
The energy legislation would:
- Require automakers to increase fuel economy of new vehicles to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. Current law requires 27.5 mpg for cars and 22.2 mpg for SUVs and small trucks.
- Increase the use of biofuels.
- Outlaw "unconscionably excessive" prices for gasoline and strengthen the power of investigators to look into market manipulation by the oil industry.
- Increase the use of ethanol - produced from wood chips, prairie grass or corn - as a substitute for gasoline.
To read The Nation column, click here
To listen to Bernie discuss the energy bill, click here.
To read Senator Clinton's statement on the Sanders-Clinton Amendment, click here.