Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) last Tuesday introduced an energy and climate change bill that he said would focus on vehicle efficiency and energy efficiency to decrease national energy consumption 11%, slice foreign oil consumption by nearly 40%, reduce average residential electric bills 15% and cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 20% by 2030.
The Practical Energy & Climate Plan (S 3464) “fixes the major leaks in our energy system” and “prioritizes the cheapest and easiest energy savings — to achieve efficiencies in our buildings, appliances and industrial processes,” Lugar said.
The bill, which was previewed a week earlier (see NGI, June 7), seeks to reduce dependence on foreign oil by beefing up vehicle efficiency standards for cars, trucks and heavy-duty vehicles, and providing revenue-neutral incentives for purchases of the most efficient vehicles in each class. Lugar also proposed a reverse auction for advanced biofuels, expanding the current Department of Energy program to include all renewable feedstocks except grain and increasing authorized funding levels.
The bill proposes several energy efficiency initiatives: long-term energy improvement targets for new buildings; a national building retrofit program; a low-interest loan program for energy efficiency retrofits for rural consumers; federal dollar-for-dollar matching for state-based loan programs to accelerate deployment of energy-saving equipment and processes in the industrial sector; accelerated implementation of improved energy- and money-saving standards for appliances; and a commitment for federal procurement to favor energy-efficient products.
The bill would establish a “diverse energy standard” — a long-term, flexible framework for states and utilities to invest in a variety of domestic electric generation resources and energy saving programs. Lugar said the standard would promote greater use of domestic and cleaner power sources.
Lugar, who hails from a state heavily populated by coal plants, made provisions for 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 by the end of 2018, and until then they would be grandfathered from regulations requiring them to install costly scrubbers.
The legislation would also provide an additional $36 billion in loan guarantee authority to help deploy the first new nuclear power generation facilities in years.
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).
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