Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) plans to introduce a “practical” energy and climate change bill Monday (June 7) that seeks to cut the nation’s energy usage and carbon dioxide emissions significantly over the next two decades.
The legislation proposes to slice foreign oil consumption by two-thirds, or 1.75 bbl by 2030; and would cut overall energy use by nearly 14%, or 11 quadrillion Btus, over the next 20 years, according to an outline of the measure. It seeks to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25% over business as usual by 2030, which is far below President Obama’s climate goal. Lugar said his bill is an alternative to the controversial cap-and-trade approach for reducing emissions.
The odds are low that the Lugar bill will get very far in the Senate this year, given that pending energy and climate bills are already stalled in the chamber. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted out an energy bill a year ago (see NGI, June 22, 2009). Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) last month unveiled long-awaited legislation that seeks to reduce GHG emissions (see NGI, May 17).
Lugar proposes to cut much of the country’s dependence on foreign oil by improving the efficiency of vehicles — long-term improvements in fuel economy in cars, trucks and heavy-duty vehicles, and revenue-neutral incentives for purchases of the most efficient vehicles in each class.
The bill also proposes several energy efficiency initiatives: long-term energy improvement targets for new buildings and appliances; achieving a 5% retrofit rate in existing homes and a 2% rate in commercial buildings; reducing energy costs for industry; and committing to federal energy efficiency leadership. Lugar estimates that these programs could cut energy demand by nearly 7% by 2030, and slash GHG emissions by about 11%.
Lugar, who hails from a state populated by old coal plants, made provisions for retiring them in the bill. It establishes a voluntary retirement program for the nation’s most-polluting coal plants, which make up approximately 16% (49 GW) of the coal generation capacity. Participating plants would retire from operation after 2020, and until then they would be grandfathered from regulations requiring them to install costly scrubbers.
Moreover, the legislation would provide an additional $36 billion in loan guarantee authority to help deploy the first new nuclear power generation facilities in years.
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