The Energy Bill

The Senate passed energy legislation that would boost fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The measure includes provisions by Senator Bernie Sanders to promote energy efficiency and to train workers for green-collar jobs. "Given the crisis we're facing in global warming, the passage of this energy bill is an important step forward," Sanders said. "Much more has to be done in the future, but raising fuel efficiency standards and helping states, cit

The Senate passed energy legislation that would boost fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The measure includes provisions by Senator Bernie Sanders to promote energy efficiency and to train workers for green-collar jobs. "Given the crisis we're facing in global warming, the passage of this energy bill is an important step forward," Sanders said. "Much more has to be done in the future, but raising fuel efficiency standards and helping states, cities and towns go forward with energy efficiency and sustainable energy projects will reduce carbon emissions, lower energy costs and create good paying jobs."

By a one-vote margin, the Senate on Thursday defeated a measure that would have stripped billions of dollars in tax subsidies from oil and gas companies and devoted the money to new renewable sources such as solar and wind. The vote for the provision was 59 to 40, still one vote shy of the 60 needed to end debate and move the bill forward.

The vote was disappointing, but it cleared the way for final congressional passage of the remaining provisions in the energy bill, including expanded use of ethanol and other biofuels.

A member of the Senate energy committee, Sanders put a provision in the bill to provide grants and loans to colleges and universities to improve energy efficiency at campus facilities and for research into innovative solutions to energy challenges.

Another Sanders provision creates an energy and environmental block grant program to support the efforts of states, cities, and towns to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions that cause global warming. The grants could be used to update building codes to require construction of energy-efficient homes and businesses, retrofit old buildings with newer technology, experiment with alternative energy, create incentives for residents to car pool or ride the bus, or organize voluntary efforts to encourage people to save energy.

The green-collar jobs provision originally was adopted in the Senate as an amendment by Sanders and Senator Hillary Clinton. It authorized $100 million to train workers in jobs that involve the design, manufacture, installation, operation, and maintenance of clean, efficient energy technologies. A 2006 study from the National Renewable Energy Lab said that a lack of skilled workers in the field was a major barrier to making America more energy efficient.


Key Provisions in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007

Improve Vehicle Fuel Economy

· Increases the fuel economy standard to 35 miles per gallon in 2020 for new cars and trucks. This is the first increase in the fuel economy standard by Congress since 1975. These provisions will save families $700 - $1000 per year at the pump, with $22 billion in net consumer savings in 2020.

Increased Production of Biofuels

· The bill increases the Renewable Fuels Standard, which sets annual requirements for the amount of renewable fuels produced and used in motor vehicles. The expanding renewable fuels standard progressively increases to a 36 billion gallon requirement by 2022.

Energy Savings Through Improved Appliances and Lights

· Sets new efficiency standards for appliances such as refrigerators and freezers, requires more efficient lighting.

Energy Savings in Buildings and Industry

· Improves Federal and commercial building energy efficiency, with green building standards for new federal buildings and a zero net energy initiative.

· Increases funding for the Weatherization Program through 2012 to assist consumers with weatherizing their homes and establishes energy efficiency standards for manufactured housing.

· Provides grants and loans to institutions of higher education, colleges and universities, as well as governmental agencies, to improve the energy efficiency of their facilities and to be innovative in solutions to our energy challenges.

Energy Savings in Government and Public Institutions

· Strengthens the energy efficiency of the federal government - promoting the purchase of energy efficient products, and procurement of alternative fuels with lower carbon emissions

· For cities, counties, and states, establishes an Energy and Environment Block Grant to be used for seed money for innovative local best practices to achieve greater energy efficiency and lower energy usage.

Alternative Energy Research & Development

· Strengthens solar research, education, and training by targeting current gaps in unleashing the potential of solar power.

Carbon Capture and Sequestration

· Takes aggressive steps on carbon capture and sequestration to come up with a cleaner way to use coal. Authorizes a nationwide assessment of geological formations capable of sequestering carbon dioxide underground.

Improved Management of Energy Policy

· Bans oil companies from engaging in market manipulation or providing false information about price in the wholesale petroleum markets, and imposes new civil penalties for breaking the rules.

International Energy Programs

· Directs the federal government to promote U.S. energy exports in clean, efficient technologies to India and China and other developing countries. Authorizes USAID to increase funding to promote clean energy technologies in developing countries.

Green Jobs

· Creates an Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Worker Training Program to train a quality workforce for "green" collar jobs -- such as solar panel manufacturer and green building worker.

· This program will provide training opportunities to our veterans, to those displaced by national energy and environmental policy and economic globalization, to individuals seeking pathways out of poverty, to at risk youth and to those workers in the energy field needing to update their skills.

Energy Transportation and Infrastructure

· Takes action to cut energy use and carbon emissions, including provisions encouraging states to carry out transportation projects that reduce air pollution.

Small Business Energy Programs

· Increases loan limits to help small businesses develop energy efficient technologies and purchases; provides information to small businesses to reduce energy costs; and increases investment in small firms developing renewable energy solutions.

Smart Grid


· Creates a "Smart" electric grid to modernize and strengthen the reliability and energy savings of our electricity supply.