Energy Bill expected to be signed by end of week

| 7/28/2005

The United States House of Representatives approved a sprawling, 1,725-page version of the Energy Bill this week with a vote of 275-156. The legislation contains a number of measures that could affect the trucking industry.

The bill, which was agreed upon by a join conference committee earlier this week, is expected to be approved by the Senate on Friday, July 29, and signed into law by President Bush by the weekend.

The president asked for a final version of the bill by Aug. 1, before the legislature departs for its five-week summer recess. The House approved its version of the bill in April, and the Senate on June 28. The conference committee has been ironing out the differences since then.

Sen. Christopher Bond, R-MO, and Sen. Carl Levin, D-MI, led the opposition to SA902, which would have required manufacturers to virtually double fuel mileage for big rigs. It would have mandated a 6.5-mile-per-gallon increase for non-passenger vehicles in the next 11 years and an increase of 12.5 miles per gallon for four-wheelers in the same time frame.

Instead, Bond and Levin proposed and gained approval of an amendment that keeps auto standards under National Highway Traffic Safety Administration authority.

However, another amendment that would benefit truckers survived the conference committee negotiations. Sponsored by Sen. George Voinovich, R-OH, it provides for truck owners to receive part of up to $1 billion in funding to replace their older trucks, or retrofit them to meet emissions standards.

The Energy Bill also includes a provision to increase the length of daylight-saving time, which currently begins on the first Sunday of April and ends on the last Sunday of October. The amendment would push the beginning date back to the second Sunday of March and the ending date to first Sunday of November.

– By Aaron Ladage, staff writer