Despite high expectations, President Bush did not sign the
long-awaited Energy Bill during the weekend. However, it is expected to be
signed sometime this week.
The Senate approved
the far-reaching legislation – the first of its kind in nearly five years – on
Friday, July 29. The House of Representatives voted in favor of the sprawling,
1,725-page version of the bill on Thursday, July 28. The legislation contains a
number of measures that could affect the trucking industry.
The president had
asked for a final version of the bill by Saturday, Aug. 1, before the
legislature departed for its five-week summer recess. The House approved its
version of the bill on April 27, and the Senate on June 28. The conference
committee has been ironing out the differences since then.
One of the biggest
missing items from the final bill is a provision that would’ve authorized oil
drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The House approved the measure
in its version of the bill in April, but it was not in the final conference
The use of biofuels
was also addressed in the bill. By 2012, all refineries must use 7.5 billion
gallons of renewable fuels, although sources in Washington said the measure is
aimed more at increased ethanol production than biodiesel.
Another section of
the bill authorizes approximately $95 million in the next three years for the
EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership, to “establish a program to support
deployment of idle reduction and energy conservation technologies.”
One amendment that
did not make the final cut was opposed by Sen. Christopher Bond, R-MO, and Sen.
Carl Levin, D-MI. The measure 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.
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 adds one month to the current plan by pushing the
beginning date back to the second Sunday of March and the ending date to first
Sunday of November.
– By Aaron
Ladage, staff writer