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Business, Labor, Environmentalists Support Historic Energy Security Bill

After dedicating the last year to bringing a dramatic change in energy policy, the New Direction Congress is poised to pass an ambitious legislation to put us on a path toward energy independence--to strengthen national security, lower energy costs, grow our economy and create new jobs, and begin to reduce global warming.  This compromise has won the support and praise from a broad coalition of the environmental, business and labor communities.

In January, President Bush called on Congress to address the country's energy supply with an eye toward advancement and innovation. This week, the House will vote on landmark energy legislation that will increase vehicle efficiency standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 and includes key renewable fuels and electricity provisions.

Energy independence is a national security issue, an economic issue, and an environmental issue. This bill puts America on the road to energy independence, strengthens our national security, grows our economy by protecting existing jobs and creating new ones, reduces energy prices and begins to address the global warming crisis.

The New Direction Congress successfully crafted an historic comprehensive energy bill that exceeds the President's call to action.

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President Bush in his State of the Union Address, January 23, 2007:

'It is in our vital interest to diversify America's energy supply - the way forward is through technology... Let us build on the work we've done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next 10 years.... To reach this goal, we must increase the supply of alternative fuels, by setting a mandatory fuels standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017 -- and that is nearly five times the current target. At the same time, we need to reform and modernize fuel economy standards for cars the way we did for light trucks -- and conserve up to 8.5 billion more gallons of gasoline by 2017...'  [1/23/07]


Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director
'We asked Congress to flip the switch on America's clean energy future by delivering a comprehensive energy bill that both raised fuel economy and greened the grid with renewable energy.   As Congress finishes its first year under new leadership, it is now poised to flip that switch and deliver the kind of energy bill that the American public has been clamoring for.   After two decades of being stuck in neutral and with oil prices in overdrive, Congress is finally on the verge of raising fuel economy standards.   We applaud our leaders in Congress for taking on polluters, special interests, an army of cynical industry lobbyists, and the most hardened foes of clean energy to forge this historic agreement.' [11/30/07]

David Friedman, Research Director of the Union of Concerned Scientists' clean vehicle program
'This agreement breaks 30 years of gridlock on fuel economy and could not have happened without strong leaders in Congress who were committed to curbing America's oil addiction.' [AP, 12/1/07]

Phyllis Cuttino, Director of the Pew Charitable Trusts Campaign for Fuel Efficiency
The deal is 'a truly historic agreement, breaking a 30-year congressional deadlock on mileage standards...If the House and Senate finally approve this deal and the President signs it, they will all have done more for consumers at the pump than any Congress or Administration since the 1970's It will not be a very merry Christmas for members of Congress if they go back to their states and districts with no answer to the question: what have you done for me at the gas pump lately?' [Detroit News, 12/2/07]

Brent Blackwelder, President of Friends of the Earth
'Congress appears to be nearing completion of an energy bill that will represent a step forward in the fight against global warming....We commend the Democratic leadership for announcing that the bill will require utilities to produce more energy from clean, renewable sources such as wind and solar, and that it will include a substantial increase in automobile fuel economy standards. After years of Republican energy bills that, if anything, made global warming worse, this is a welcome change of direction.' [12/3/07]

Paul Bledsoe, Director of Communications and Strategy for the bipartisan National Commission on Energy Policy
'If it becomes law, this deal will mark the most important step toward improving U.S. oil security in a generation.' [Washington Post, 12/1/07]

Dave McCurdy, President & CEO, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
'The Alliance commends Congressional leaders for reaching agreement on an aggressive, nationwide fuel economy program. This agreement reflects much hard work and tough negotiating by many parties. Importantly, this agreement establishes nationwide fuel economy requirements for the next 12 years and beyond. Upon adoption of this legislation, Congress will have established aggressive, nationwide fuel economy requirements, concluding a longstanding debate...The agreement includes a number of necessary measures to help make the overall regulatory program more realistic and reasonable....We believe this tough, national fuel economy bill will be good for both consumers and energy security. We support its passage.' [12/1/07]

Rick Wagoner, GM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
'There are tough, new CAFE standards contained in the energy bill before Congress that pose a significant technical and economic challenge to the industry...But, it's a challenge that GM is prepared to put forth its best effort to meet with an array of engineering, research and development resources. We will continue our aggressive pursuit of advance technologies that will deliver more products with more energy solutions to our customers.' [Detroit News, 12/2/07]

Bill Ford, Jr., Ford Executive Chairman
'We have to do it, and we have the best people in the industry getting ready to do it...We worked very hard with the members of Congress to come up with a deal that we could live with.' [Detroit News, 12/4/07]

Josephine S. Cooper, Group Vice President, Toyota Motor North America
'As always, Toyota will not wait for new standards to be set, but will move forward expeditiously to apply advanced technologies to improve the fuel economy of our fleet. Toyota will continue to strive to be the most fuel-efficient full-line manufacturer.'[AP, 12/1/07]

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm
'If signed into law, it will help us gain federal investments that retool our manufacturing facilities and accelerate the sale of tomorrow's clean energy vehicles.' [Detroit News, 12/2/07]

House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Michigan)
'After weeks of productive discussion and negotiation, we have achieved consensus on several provisions that provide critical environmental safeguards without jeopardizing American jobs.' [AP, 12/1/07]

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan):
'There is no doubt this standard will require major investment by the American automobile industry and will be a challenge to achieve. I continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that any final energy package includes the critical investments needed to protect American jobs and truly eliminate our dependence on foreign oil.' [AP, 12/1/07]

Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers
Larry Cohen, President of the Communications Workers of America
Paul Almeida, President of the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO
'As leaders of a variety of labor organizations, we... encourage your strong support of a renewable energy standard (RES) in any proposed energy legislation. This is the most important first step we can take in solving the climate crisis and we need to take this step sooner rather than later...The RES will contribute greatly to reduced carbon emission, and will be THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB - CREATING MEASURE CONSIDERED BY CONGRESS!' [12/4/07]

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New York Times, 'Bringing an Energy Bill Home'
Editorial - December 4, 2007

Congress is now within reach of a breakthrough energy bill that would reduce both America's dependence on foreign oil and its emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. House passage later this week is virtually certain. Senate approval depends on whether the majority leader, Harry Reid, and the minority leader, Mitch McConnell, can corral a half-dozen votes among moderate Republicans to resist a threatened filibuster.

Success would earn them the gratitude of a country that badly needs a rational energy strategy.

The bill's centerpiece, negotiated over the weekend by House leaders, is the first meaningful increase in fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, including S.U.V.'s, in more than 30 years. The provision would raise average fuel economy standards from 25 miles per gallon today to 35 miles per gallon in 2020. It would eventually save about 1.1 million barrels of oil per day, one-half of current imports from the Persian Gulf.

A similar provision was approved by the Senate last summer. That the House has now accepted it is a tribute to the persistence of Ed Markey of Massachusetts, an unrelenting champion of fuel efficiency; the negotiating skills of Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker; and a statesmanlike willingness to compromise on the part of John Dingell, the powerful Michigan Democrat who realized that it was no longer plausible to defend all of Detroit's demands in the face of $90 a barrel oil.

The bill includes several other important provisions. One calls for a big increase in the production and distribution of advanced forms of ethanol from sources other than corn. With strong environmental safeguards, this provision could reduce both oil consumption and greenhouse gases.

Another critical provision -- the renewable electricity standard -- would require utilities to generate 15 percent of their power by 2020 from a combination of improved efficiency and renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

This is the most vulnerable part of the bill. Senator Pete Domenici, an influential Republican voice on energy issues, is vowing to fight it, even though he has voted for similar provisions before and his own state of New Mexico has embarked on an aggressive renewable electricity program.

The White House is also opposed and has hinted that President Bush would veto the entire bill if the renewable electricity provision survives. Torpedoing this bill would make it harder to address the problem of global warming, while leaving this country ever more dependent on foreign oil. Mr. Bush and Mr. Domenici should not stand in the way.