Even as several Democratic senators questioned Majority Leader Harry Reid’s assertion that a renewable electricity standard (RES) lacks support, the $15 billion energy bill does not include a provision to require utilities to get a certain percentage of their power from renewable sources, reports The New York Times.
Mark Udall (D-Colo.) told the New York Times that there are about 62 senators who would support a RES that requires utilities to get 15 percent of their power by 2020 from renewable sources.
The energy bill does include $5 billion in rebates for energy efficiency retrofits in homes, $3.8 billion to encourage the use of natural gas trucks, and $400 million to study electric cars, according to the article.
The measure will be financed by raising the per-barrel surcharge that oil companies pay for the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The bill also eliminates the nation’s current $75 million liability cap on offshore oil companies responsible for oil spills, and would be applied retroactively to BP and other firms, reports The New York Times.
The oil industry, through the American Petroleum Institute, is concerned that eliminating the cap on economic damages from oil spills could make offshore drilling only economical for large drilling firms, reports The Wall Street Journal.
And other trade groups are lobbying against any provisions that would increase demand for natural gas, saying it could result in higher electricity costs and shift domestic manufacturing jobs offshore, according to the article.
Meanwhile, environmentalists are upset that the bill will allow big polluters to continue reaping profits at the expense of Americans, reports The Christian Science Monitor.
“At every opportunity, a minority of Senators who are in the pocket of America’s largest polluters in the coal and oil industries chose obstruction over working together to solve America’s energy and national security challenges,” according to a statement by a group of 350 organizations including the League of Conservation Voters, the Alliance for Climate Protection and the Union of Concerned Scientists, reports the newspaper.