New senate energy bill is a poison pill

The senate has finally released its new, slimmed-down version of their Energy boot-to-the-face legislation. Adding “only” $15B to the national debt (because it won’t be subject to “pay-go” rules) the bill contains only 357 pages of Orwellian governmentspeak.  (story here from the American Thinker)

The latest Senate energy bill, quietly unveiled last week, looks like sweet compromise on radical measures like cap and trade, but buried within is a bitter poison pill that will could be swallowed in a vote that may come this week.

Unlike the 1,200-page House of Representatives energy bill, which passed last year, this scaled-down proposal does not call for an 83-percent reduction in greenhouse gases (or any reduction in greenhouse gases) and contains no mention of a cap-and-trade scheme. Also contrary to the House bill, this one does not provide a family of four earning up to $55,000 with a monthly stipend — deposited directly into their bank accounts — to offset higher energy costs. It also does not supply three years of unemployment benefits at 70 percent of former wages — plus job retraining and relocation — to those whose jobs are shipped overseas, as prescribed in the House bill.

Instead, at a glance (which is the way most in Congress ever seem to examine legislation), this bill appears rather easy to take. Most of its 357 pages are devoted to sections entitled “Oil Spill Response,” “Reducing Oil Consumption,” “Improving Energy Security,” and “Protecting the Environment.” There’s even a portion devoted to further grill BP via subpoena power. With sugar-coating like this, the sixty votes necessary to pass seem possible.

While it is causing much bedwetting from the “greens” for what it doesn’t contain, it still has plenty of boot-to-the-face government control mechanisms. Here are a few:

For example, electric vehicles are pushed via the bill’s “Promoting Electric Vehicles Act of 2010.” No surprise here, particularly since the government has a 61% stake in General Motors and Chevy’s electro-mobile, the Volt. Besides this Act allowing the feds to spend $25 million on new electric cars for their official fleet, there’s an astounding electric car welfare program. Section 2116 explains that 400,000 such vehicles will be virtually given away at low cost — or perhaps no cost — to people living in “selected communities diverse in population” and “demographics.”

Additionally, pages 264-265 require that any new construction or remodel of an existing structure must include the installation of proper hookups for charging an electric vehicle. So even if you have no intention of owning such a car, adding that extra bedroom will require you to spend additional money to install battery-charging infrastructure in your garage.

The bill also heralds the coming of the “Batteries For Tomorrow Prize.” The first person to build a car battery that runs 500 miles on a single charge will win a taxpayer-funded reward of $10 million.

And there’s bait to entice truck owners to switch from traditional petroleum to natural gas. Section 2002 describes federal rebates, ranging from $8,000 for large pickups to $64,000 for heavy-duty Class 6 trucks weighing 26,000 pounds, available for those who install the equipment to make the fuel swap. And government grants (not loans) of up to $50,000 are available for gas stations to install natural gas refueling pumps.

And then there is the section of the Senate bill dedicated to the new federal building code. Originally rolled out in the House’s energy plan, the code — which supersedes all state and local measures and is thoroughly detailed in my book, Climategate — now has a name: “The Home Star Retrofit Act of 2010.” This Act places a hard squeeze on every property owner to spend thousands of dollars in environmental compliance upgrades in a time of economic stringency and falling home prices.

So I guess this is some sort of compromise? UGH…

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