The American Petroleum Institute praised the expanded gulf access that the bill provides, while also praising language that protects Canadian oil sands from a 2007 law requiring that federal agencies cannot buy alternative fuels that have higher greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels.
"The committee took a positive step forward by passing this bill which recognizes the importance of additional offshore oil and natural gas development and Canadian oil to our nation's energy and economic security," API President Jack Gerard said in a prepared statement.
But he added that he wants a coastal revenue-sharing provision added on the floor, which the industry wants to provide states incentive to support offshore drilling.
The Sierra Club criticized the bill after the vote, announcing that it cannot support the measure in its current form and pledging to try to win changes on the floor. The group criticized the RES, saying it "will not result in more clean energy and clean energy jobs than the status quo." The group also attacked the expanded gulf oil and gas access and changes to the 2007 fuels procurement law.
"We will seek improvements that will allow the bill to actually deliver more clean energy, slash energy waste, create new clean energy jobs, and speed our transition away from dirty coal and oil toward cleaner, cheaper energy sources like wind and solar," said Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope in a prepared statement.
Across the Capitol, House Democratic leaders plan to bring their combined energy and climate package to the floor in the coming weeks. It includes a nationwide cap-and-trade system to cut greenhouse gas emissions, along with a renewable power mandate and a suite of other energy measures.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he hopes to bring a combined energy and climate bill to the floor this fall, and Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) says she wants to mark up the climate portions in her committee before lawmakers leave for the monthlong August recess.
But a cap-and-trade plan faces significant Senate obstacles, and some lawmakers have called for considering the Senate Energy Committee's package separately.
Committee adopts national interconnection standard, rejects bigger auto grants
The committee approved the bill following its adoption of several amendments.
The panel narrowly approved Bingaman's amendment aimed at boosting use of distributed generation technologies such as residential solar power by easing their connection to the grid.
Bingaman's amendment would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to craft a national interconnection standard. He said his plan would help replace the current "patchwork" at the state level, where policies differ and not all states have them in place.
He argued that the amendment is needed to spur adoption of distributed sources that increase grid reliability while reducing costs by cutting the need for new baseload power generation. "There needs to be at least a set of common, minimum standards across the nation," he said, while noting that his amendment allows states to use their own policies if they are consistent with the federal standard.
Murkowski opposed the plan, calling it an unwarranted expansion of FERC jurisdiction that usurps states' traditional powers over the electricity distribution system. The committee rejected, by voice vote, a second Bingaman amendment to create a national net metering standard.
The committee also approved Sen. Byron Dorgan's (D-N.D.) amendment aimed at helping deploy the recharging infrastructure that would be needed for widespread use of plug-in electric vehicles, which are seen as a promising way of reducing oil use in the transportation sector.
But Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) failed in her effort to increase the size of grants that could be issued under DOE's Section 136 program, which authorizes grants and loans for auto-industry development of advanced-technology vehicles and related components.
Her plan would have allowed DOE to issue grants covering 50 percent of the costs of industry projects such as retooling plants to make advanced cars or parts. The federal share is currently capped at 30 percent. The grant portion of the Section 136 program has not yet been funded.
The panel rejected her amendment, 11-12.
Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500