President Bush plans
to sign the long-awaited Energy Bill on Monday, Aug. 8, despite high
expectations that he would approve it over the past weekend.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, Bush will sign
the bill from Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM, as a show of
appreciation for two U.S. Senators who were instrumental in gaining approval
for the bill.
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 include 7.5
billion gallons of renewable fuels in the nation’s fuel supplies, 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.”
Bond. R-MO and Sen. Carl Levin led the opposition of an amendment, which led to
the eventual demise of the measure that 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
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. The measure, sponsored by Sen. George Voinovich, R-OH, provides
for truck owners to receive part of a fund totaling $1 billion 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