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US Senate to launch broad energy debate after work on two bills


Washington (Platts)-

Despite much in flux in the US Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid has
decided to step up his schedule and have the chamber launch into a broad
debate on energy after it completes work on two other bills.

"While we continue to press the president and his supporters here in
Congress to chart a new course in Iraq, we will move to the next set of issues
that are crucial to the American people: expanding federal funding for stem
cell research, lowering Medicare prescription drug costs, delivering a new
national energy policy and implementing tough, fair immigration reform" Reid,
Democrat-Nevada, said as he reopened the Senate following a week-long recess.

The announcement marks a shift for Reid, who two weeks ago said the
Senate might debate a narrow bill to increase the US government’s energy
efficiency, but that a broad debate was not on the horizon. He seemed to make
it clear in his remarks why he moved his schedule forward.

"In the past several weeks, gas prices have risen dramatically once
again,“ he said. ”I am hopeful that in the coming weeks, the Senate will
consider legislation that would put us on the right track toward increased
production and use of renewable fuels, renewable electricity and energy
efficient products, buildings and vehicles. This legislation will improve our
energy security and reduce the risks of global warming"

Senate committees are developing legislation to increase the renewable
fuels standard, raise fuel economy standards, address global warming and
provide tax incentives for alternative energy, but none have approved such

The Energy and Natural Resources Committee this week will begin examining
a bill to increase the RFS to 36 billion gallons by 2022, and is awaiting
Chairman Jeff Bingaman’s proposal to encourage energy efficiency and green
power production.

The commerce and finance committees are expected to vote on measures to
increase Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards and a package of tax
credits, respectively, but hearings on such bills have not been scheduled.

The environment committee passed the federal efficiency bill in March as
an initial step to lower greenhouse gases; Chairwoman Barbara Boxer has given
no indication when she might hold a vote on divisive legislation to cap carbon
dioxide emissions.

--Michael Schmidt,

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