The New York Times reports today that Senate and House negotiators have reached an agreement on broad energy legislation that is expected to be up for votes in the House Wednesday and the Senate Thursday.
Unfortunately, as Americans head off on their summer vacations, the bill, which covers everything from hybrid cars to off-shore drilling, does almost nothing to immediately lowering staggering gas prices. I suppose it doesn't bother many Congressional leaders that gas is $2.50 a gallon at the pump when they're jetting off on lobbyist-funded junkets.
To add insult to injury, the bill gives billions of dollars in aid and tax breaks to traditional oil companies. After the Republican-led House majority on the conference committee rejected his bid to cut oil-industry tax breaks, Rep Ed Markey (D-MA) said: "We might as well be giving tax breaks to Donald Trump and Warren Buffett here tonight."
That same Republican majority also rejected: an effort to incorporate a plan passed by the Senate to require utilities to use more renewable energy and a bid directing President Bush to cut the country's oil consumption by one million barrels a day within 10 years.
The good news is that some Republican leaders in the house seem to be losing a bit of clout. In order to reach an agreement, lawmakers abandoned a 2003 plan, spearheaded by embattled Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), which would have given legal immunity to producers and distributors of the environmentally harmful gasoline additive MTBE. Senators also rejected a House proposal to relax clean air standards.