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Sierra Club: Senate Waters Down Energy Bill

offshoredrillingA Senate panel approved an energy bill that would give utilities more flexibility to meet renewable energy requirements than under the House bill, and allow oil and gas companies to drill in large parts of the eastern Gulf of Mexico, highlighting the challenges Congress faces in trying to pass legislation by year end, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The bill also provides federal loan guarantees for a gas pipeline project in Alaska, money for clean energy technologies and training for workers in new energy-related industries, reports the New York Times. The energy bill also calls for expansion of the U.S. stockpiles of petroleum reserves to deal with sudden shortages or rising prices, and provides federal incentives for projects to capture and store carbon dioxide, and encourages a solution to the problem of storing nuclear waste, according to the article.

Under the Senate bill, utilities would be required to generate as much as 15 percent of power from renewable resources by 2021, with up to a quarter of that coming from energy-efficiency gains, while the House bill would require utilities to generate as much as 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020, in addition to producing efficiency gains accounting for another 5 percent of power, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Environmental groups oppose the Senate Bill. The Sierra Club says the bill is deficient in renewable energy, clean energy jobs, and the fight against global warming. The environmental group says it will oppose the Senate energy legislation, calling it watered down beyond acceptable levels, reports The Hill. The group also criticized provisions that allow the government to purchase liquid coal and tar sands oil, and allowing more offshore drilling.

Legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050 could be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives as early as next week, as the Senate focused on the plan’s tax implications for companies under a cap-and-trade program, reports Reuters.

Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee are asking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to extend the deadline of June 19 for considering a proposal to regulate greenhouse gasses, reports RTTNews.

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