U.S. House passes energy bill

By Erin Voegele | September 16, 2008
Web exclusive posted Sept. 22, 2008 at 11:08 a.m. CST

On Sept. 16, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a new energy bill, H.R. 6899, by a vote of 236 to 189. Although attention has been focused on the offshore drilling aspects of the legislation, the legislation also could have an impact on the biofuels and renewable energy industries.

One potential impact to the biofuels industry can be found in the bill under Section 701 of Title VII – Miscellaneous Provisions. It would require all retail fuel stations owned by major oil companies to have at least one alternative fuel pump, along with necessary infrastructure and storage facilities, available to dispense natural gas, E85, fuel containing at least 20 percent biodiesel or renewable diesel, or hydrogen by Jan. 1, 2018. Companies failing to comply with the section would be liable for a $100,000 civil penalty for each noncompliant station.

Under Title V – Federal Renewable Electricity Standard, Section 501, percentage requirements for renewable electricity from 2010 through 2039 are set. In 2010, 2.75 percent of electricity would need to come from renewable resources. That percentage would increase until 2020 when 15 percent of electricity would need to be generated through renewable resources. The 15 percent level would extend until 2039. These percentages could be achieved through a variety of sources, including solar, wind, ocean, tidal, geothermal energy, biomass, landfill gas, incremental hydropower, or hydrokinetic energy.

The legislation also includes provisions dedicated to extending renewable energy credits for various industries and would increases fuel efficiency requirements for vehicles as well as repeal billion of dollars in tax breaks for oil companies.

Although the legislation has been approved by the House, the U.S. Senate must now consider the bill. It's unlikely the bill will be signed into law in its present form.
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