Bush signs energy bill; no quick price relief in sight
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – As crude oil prices hit a new high Monday, President Bush signed a bill that will give billions in tax breaks to encourage homegrown energy production but won’t quickly reduce high gasoline prices or the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.”This bill is not going to solve our energy challenges overnight,” Bush said in a speech shortly before he signed the 1,724-page bill at the Sandia National Laboratories. “Most of the serious problems, such as high gasoline costs or the rising dependence on foreign oil, have developed over decades. It’s going to take years of focused effort to alleviate those problems.”In the near term, the new legislation will extend daylight-saving time, give tax breaks to drivers who buy cars with fuel-efficient technologies and try to jump-start the construction of new nuclear power plants.Supporters say that in the long run, the new law will refocus the nation’s energy priorities and promote cleaner and alternative sources of energy.”The bill recognizes that America is the world’s leader in technology, and that we’ve got to use technology to be the world’s leader in energy conservation,” Bush said.Environmental groups and other opponents say the bill amounts to a gift to energy companies that does nothing new to promote renewable energy.The bill’s price tag – $12.3 billion over 10 years – is twice what the White House had first proposed. It does not include Bush’s desire to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration. Drilling advocates, however, have a backup plan that is expected to unfold in mid-September.The measure funnels billions of dollars to energy companies, including tax breaks and loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants, clean coal technology and wind energy.Before signing the bill, Bush toured the Energy Department’s national solar thermal test facility, which was built in 1976 in response to the oil embargo and energy crisis. Bush walked in a field of mirrored solar panels, wearing shirt sleeves and sunglasses to ward off the bright midday sun.For consumers, the bill would provide tax credits for buying hybrid gasoline-electric cars and making energy-conservation improvements with better windows and appliances in new and existing homes. Also, beginning in 2007, the measure extends daylight-saving time by one month to save energy, starting three weeks earlier in the spring, and adding a week in the fall.Bush traveled from his Texas ranch to sign the bill in the home state of Republican Sen. Pete Domenici, the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Domenici was the driving force in ending a four-year standoff in Congress and getting the measure passed with bipartisan support last month.New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman, the Energy Committee’s top Democrat, praised the passage of the bill but said more must be done to tap the potential of renewable energy, address global warming and use less oil from overseas.The bill did not “markedly reduce these imports,” Bingaman said in a statement. “We need to build a consensus around effective steps to use less oil in our transportation sector, which is the basic cause of our increasing reliance on oil imports.”Shortly before Bush signed the law, crude oil rose to a record high of more than $63 a barrel, reflecting market fears over the U.S. embassy closure in Saudi Arabia due to security threats and concerns that shutdowns of U.S. oil refineries would reduce supply.Deb Callahan, president of the League of Conservation Voters, said the bill will do nothing to improve the environment, reduce dependence on foreign oil or bring down gas prices even in the long term.”They did as little as they possibly could in order to have a nice talking point,” she said.Vail – Colorado
Support Local Journalism
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User