Saturday, June 23, 2007

Energy legislation is all about fuel standards

President's pitch for nuclear energy at Brown's Ferry falls on deaf ears

Energy conservation and new fuel economy standards are the key elements of a Senate energy bill approved this week that ignores nuclear energy. The bill passed while President Bush was touring the Brown's Ferry nuclear plant touting its benefits.

Speaking in Athens, GA, President Bush says three new nuclear power plants will be needed each year starting 2015 to keep pace with soaring electricity demand. President Bush said U.S. utilities could build up to 30 new nuclear power plants and could start construction by 2010 in order to keep up with growing electricity demand without spurring more global warming.

"It's time for the country to start building nuclear power plants again," Bush said at the Browns Ferry nuclear plant near Huntsville, Alabama, which is operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Bush said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will likely get 20 applications from utilities to build up to 30 new reactors and said construction could begin by the end of the decade. No new licenses have been filed at the NRC since 1973. It was Bush's third visit to a nuclear power plant since June 2005.

President Bush and the nuclear energy industry might have done better if he'd not bothered to make the trip in the first place. Or maybe the Senate just thinks Bush is a sack of talking clothes these days.

None of his remarks about nuclear energy made the least impact on the US Senate which according to wire service reports passed energy legislation that has these elements . . .

-- Increases automobile fuel-economy requirements to a fleetwide average of 35 mpg by 2020 from the current requirements of 27.5 mpg for cars and 22.2 mpg for sport utility vehicles and small trucks.

-- Requires that half of the new cars manufactured by 2015 be capable of running on 85 percent ethanol or biodiesel fuels.

-- Mandates the production of 36 billion gallons a year of ethanol, as a substitute for gasoline, by 2022 -- a sevenfold increase over production in 2006. Ethanol would be made from corn and cellulosic sources such as prairie grass and wood chips.

-- Establishes price-gouging provisions that make it unlawful to charge an "unconscionably excessive" price for oil products including gasoline and gives the federal government new authority to investigate oil industry market manipulation.

-- Creates new appliance and lighting efficiency standards and requires the federal government to accelerate use of more efficient lighting in public buildings.

-- Provides grants, loan guarantees and other assistance to promote research into fuel-efficient vehicles, including hybrids, advanced diesel and battery technologies.

-- Supports large-scale demonstrations that capture carbon dioxide from coal-burning power plants and injects it into the ground.

These are all important measures to control global warming. Next stop is the House where the push for renewable eenrgy will be even stronger.

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