Energy bill stymied in Senate today David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- The Senate today rejected an effort to cut off debate and move to the approval phase on an energy bill that would increase vehicle fuel efficiency standards by 40 percent by 2020 to a fleet-wide average of 35 mpg.
By a 53-42 margin, the Senate failed to get the 60 votes needed to move to a vote on the energy bill the House approved Thursday. Both Michigan senators supported the bill, a compromise with the stiffer regulations approved by the Senate in June. This version also is backed by automakers.
The House approved by a 235-181 margin the energy bill that also spends billions of dollars on alternative energy, requires 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022 and requires utilities to produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources.
Advertisement It also provides nearly $1 billion in consumer tax credits for the purchase of plug-in hybrids and electric cars and $25 billion in federally backed loan guarantees for domestic automakers to retool older auto plants.
"This isn't the end of the bill," said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., saying the Senate "can fix the problems with the House bill" and send President Bush a bill he can sign.
The Senate passed an energy bill 65-27 in June with similar fuel economy standards but without the oil taxes or new electricity standards. Many lawmakers believe the Senate will soften or eliminate some of the most controversial provisions in order to approve the bill and send it back to the House before it adjourns for the year.
The White House reiterated its veto threat of the energy bill on Thursday after the House approved it, saying it opposed the plan for $21 billion in new taxes on the oil and gas industry, and that the electricity standards would raise the cost of electricity.
The bill also would require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to create new fuel efficiency standards for work trucks and commercial medium and heavy duty trucks that have never been regulated. The new standards for the heaviest vehicles won't take effect until 2012 at the earliest.
It would also require NHTSA to rewrite new car window stickers and produce tire efficiency standards.