President Bush today
signed the massive $12.3 billion Energy Bill into law, a far-reaching policy he
has been pushing for since taking office.
According to the Albuquerque
Journal, Bush signed the bill at 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 legislation – the first of its kind in nearly five years – on July 29. The
House of Representatives voted in favor of the sprawling, 1,725-page version of
the bill on July 28. The bill contains a number of measures that could affect
the trucking industry.
The president had
asked for a final version of the bill by 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 spent the
month of July ironing out the differences.
One of the biggest
items missing from the final bill is a provision that would’ve authorized oil
drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The House included the measure
in its version of the bill, but it was not in the final conference committee
The use of biofuels
is 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
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