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. US Congress Nudges Energy Industry To Go Green

The new emphasis on renewable energy would lower natural gas and electricity prices and save more than 100 billion dollars for US consumers, the officials said. If the best provisions of both the Senate and House versions of the bill are combined, US greenhouse gas emissions would drop 18 percent by 2030, according to an analysis by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
by Maxim Kniazkov
Washington (AFP) Aug 05, 2007
The US House of Representatives has taken an unprecedented step toward cutting greenhouse gas emissions as it passed a bill requiring utility companies to produce 15 percent of their electricity from wind and solar power. The bill sailed through the House Saturday on a 241-172 vote, despite fervent opposition from big oil and gas companies and the White House, which has threatened to veto the measure. "Today, the House propelled America's energy policy into the future," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters. "This planet is God's creation; we have a moral responsibility to protect it."

Twenty-six Republicans crossed party lines to vote for the initiative.

The bill will have to be reconciled with a Senate version, which passed last June but is more restrained and emphasizes slightly different priorities.

A provision in the bill calls for gradual steps to reduce the role of fossil fuels in generating energy, imposing for the first time a federal standard.

This would require utilities to provide 15 percent of their electricity from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources by 2020, compared to just 6.1 percent currently, according to government statistics.

The new standard will likely result in a reduction of carbon dioxide emissions -- a major contributor to global warming -- by 500 million tons, according to congressional officials.

Power plants account for about a third of the carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.

The new emphasis on renewable energy would lower natural gas and electricity prices and save more than 100 billion dollars for US consumers, the officials said.

If the best provisions of both the Senate and House versions of the bill are combined, US greenhouse gas emissions would drop 18 percent by 2030, according to an analysis by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

The Senate energy efficiency package, which includes new car fuel efficiency standards, is also projected to reduce US demand for oil by 5.3 million barrels a day in 2030 -- 32 percent of oil and other liquid fuel imports projected for that year.

"The passage of this legislation is a major leap forward in our fight against global warming," said Democratic representative Chris Van Hollen.

"In a world threatened by climate change, increasing costs and decreasing supply, diversifying our energy mix with clean, homegrown renewables is good policy."

The House also repealed about 16 billion dollars in tax breaks granted by President George W. Bush's administration to the oil industry two years ago, mandating that the resulting tax revenues be used to pay for renewable energy research.

That has sparked a sharp response from the oil and gas industry as well as their Republican allies, setting the stage for a political showdown in the fall.

The American Petroleum Institute, a powerful lobby that represents about 400 leading oil and gas corporations, issued a statement calling the House measure "the wrong prescription" because "it is premised on the false idea the nation must choose between alternatives and oil and natural gas."

The bill, the group warned, would discourage energy production and threaten job creation and living standards.

The White House plunged into the fray on Friday, firing off a terse two-page letter to Congress, in which it threatened a presidential veto and "strongly" argued against raising taxes.

The combination of the House and Senate bills, said the White House's Office of Management and Budget, "will result in less domestic oil and gas production, higher taxes to disadvantage a single targeted industry."

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Russia's Oil-Fuelled Boom Continues
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Aug 06, 2007
Russia's lucky streak continues. The price of oil, the country's main export item and its chief source of budget revenues, has once again soared to record levels. On July 31, the price of a barrel of oil gained $1.38, closing at $78.21 on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). This is the highest it has closed on the NYMEX since the exchange began trading oil in 1983 and is close to its all-time record of $78.40 per barrel reached on July 14, 2006. The rise in oil prices will allow the Russian government to meet this year's budget requirements as early as this August. However, a country cannot live only on revenues from non-renewable resources.

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