New Energy Bill Approved

The largely Republican crafted bill was approved in two days, and the GOP majority turned back repeated attempts by Democrats to add measures to reduce energy use, including higher fuel economy requirements for automobiles. The bill also includes $12 billion in tax breaks over the next ten years and subsidies for energy companies.

Here are some of the highlights of the new bill:

? Opens the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for oil and gas drilling.
? Suspends federal royalty payments for five years for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico deep water or more than 400 meters.
? Earmarks $2 billion in royalties from the Federal Outer Continental Shelf for research in ultra-deep water drilling areas.
? Expands the Strategic Petroleum Reserve by 300 million barrels to 1 billion barrels, and halts new shipments, if U.S. oil futures price rises above $40 per barrel.
? Authorizes more than $3 billion in research for oil, gas, and coal industries.
? Gives Federal Energy Regulatory Commission final say, if localities object to new liquefied natural gas projects.
? Limits product liability for makers of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), a fuel additive and suspected carcinogen that has fouled groundwater in cities across the nation.
? Cuts number of special gasoline blends now required to ease air pollution in cities and regions.
? Requires at least 5 billion gallons of corn-blended ethanol to be used in U.S. gasoline supply by 2012.
? Offers $750 million in subsidies to build new ethanol production plants.
? Doubles funding to develop low-emissions coal plants to $2.5 billion.
? Offers federally guaranteed loans for five petroleum coke plants and a coal gasification plant in West Virginia.
? Extends expiring accident insurance protection for owners of nuclear power plants by 20 years.
? Spends $1.3 billion for experimental Idaho reactor that would also produce hydrogen fuel.
? Sets mandatory reliability standards for the electric power grid to prevent the repeat of the August, 2003 blackout that left 50 million Americans in the dark.
? Offers financial incentives to generate more electricity from solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal sources.
? Extends annual U.S. daylight-savings time by two months to cut energy use.
? Extends deadline for cities downwind of polluting factories to comply with smog standards, if states can prove that most pollution comes from outside their borders.
? Requires 20 percent cut in federal buildings' energy use by 2015.
? Authorizes more than $3 billion annually to help poor families pay winter heating bills.