AGI Home | About AGIContact UsSearch 

Printable Version

108th Congress Energy Bill Comparison Chart

(Posted 8-14-03)

IN A NUTSHELL: The House passed its energy bill (H.R. 6) by a 247-175 vote on April 11th. The Senate began debate on S.14 during the last week of July, but then approved Senator Jeff Bingaman's (D-NM) bill from the 107th Cognress 84-14 on July 31st. The Senate-passed bill is also called H.R. 6. The chart below compares the two energy bills as passed by the House and Senate. A House-Senate conference committee is expected to be convened this fall to reconcile the two bills.

For more information about the energy policy debate, see AGI's Energy Policy Overview.


Alaska natural gas pipeline

Directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to expedite approval of North Slope natural gas pipeline construction permits. Also prohibits line from running through Canada above 68 degrees North latitude, favoring the southern route through Alaska.

Mandates the southern route, turning east into Canada anywhere below 68 degrees north latitude (south of the Brooks Range, north of Fairbanks). Expedites approval, construction and initial operation of the pipeline, and offers an 80 percent loan guarantee.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling

Allows oil production but limits coastal plain surface development footprint to 2,000 acres.

No provision.


On fuel economy for cars and light trucks, the bill authorizes an additional $5 million to help the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration implement and enforce federal fuel economy standards for model years 2004 to 2006; directs the National Academy of Sciences to perform another study on the “feasibility and effects” of significantly improving fuel economy by 2012; asks NAS to recommend alternatives to the current federal fuel economy law, which requires NHTSA to set annual CAFE standards for cars and light trucks. Also directs researchers to aim for fuel economy targets of 80 miles per gallon for passenger vehicles by 2010 and 60 miles per gallon for light trucks by the same date.

Directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to set corporate average fuel economy standards, taking 13 factors into account. Transportation Department officials would have to weigh the "technological feasibility" and "economic practicability" of higher gas mileage requirements, along with potential effects on safety, air quality and employment. Transportation Department officials would have to promulgate regulations for passenger cars within two-and-a-half years following the passage of the energy bill. For non-passenger vehicles, CAFE standards would have to be finalized within 15 months of the bill's passage.

The only hard fuel economy increase would be leveled at the federal fleet of passenger cars and light trucks, which would have to improve by 1 mile per gallon by the end of FY' 03 and 3 mpg by 2005. For federal fleets of vehicles not covered under the 1992 energy bill, government officials would have ramp up the number of light duty trucks powered by hybrid gasoline-electric engines. After 2006, 10 percent of new trucks purchased for federal fleets would have to be hybrids. For dual fueled vehicles in federal fleets -- cars and trucks capable of running on gasoline with high concentrations of ethanol -- officials must ensure that 50 percent of the fuel used by 2009 is alternative fuel. Many of these so-called flexible-fuel vehicles currently run on gasoline only, even though they are capable of using fuel containing 85 percent ethanol.

Climate change

No provision.

Keeps greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting voluntary for at least five years, but adds the Environmental Protection Agency to the agencies managing the registry and includes a trigger making the registry mandatory if after five years it accounts for less than 60 percent of U.S. GHG emissions. Creates a White House Office of Climate Policy and requires it to present to Congress within a year a strategy to stabilize U.S. GHG emissions.

Coal subsidies

Provides $2 billion for the Bush administration’s Clean Coal Power Initiative, authorizing $200 million annually for the project through 2011, with an additional $200 million per year through 2006 for further coal energy research and development.

$1.9 billion in tax breaks for "clean coal" development.


Grants the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy more authority over power line siting process on public lands; gives FERC final “backstop” authority in power line siting process when states do not act; does not allow states to opt out of FERC’s standard market design (SMD), but includes “native load” protections for utilities with fixed electricity loads; repeals the Public Utility Holding Company Act; partially repeals the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act; leaves FERC merger review authority intact; encourages “voluntary” participation in regional transmission organizations (RTOs) for private and public utilities, including the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Bonneville Power Administration.

Amends the Federal Power Act to give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authority over regional transmission organizations (RTOs) and the ability to approve reliability standards for RTOs. Repeals the Public Utility Holding Company Act. Repeals the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act with modifications, eliminating the mandatory purchase requirement with exceptions for cogeneration. Directs utilities to provide real-time pricing and net-metering services. Establishes a task force among FERC, the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice to assess wholesale competition.

Ethanol/Renewable Fuels

The renewable fuels standard (RFS) title includes a large-scale mandate for renewable fuel additives in gasoline, a mostly pro-ethanol scenario that would require 2.7 billion gallons to be used in the nation’s fuel supply by 2005, ramped up to 5 billion gallons in 2015. Continues to allow the use of gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) in states that have not moved to ban the suspected carcinogen and groundwater contaminant. Contains a significant transition package for the MTBE industry, including the authorization of up to $250 million a year in grants from 2004 to 2006. Also continues to provide a safe harbor exemption for MTBE producers, helping them avoid costly defective product liability lawsuits. That exemption would also apply to ethanol producers.

The RFS section also eliminates the Clean Air Act 2 percent oxygenate standard, a requirement that has meant many pollution-plagued states seeking to ban MTBE cannot do so without either gaining a federal waiver or finding an alternative. It includes a credit system that is aimed to ensure that areas without a sufficient ethanol infrastructure are not obliged to use it.

More than doubles the amount of renewable fuel additives -- mostly ethanol -- in the nation's fuel supply, from 2.3 billion gallons in 2004 to 5 billion gallons in 2012. Refiners would be allowed to meet the mandate through a bank-and-trade program. The bill bans MTBE and provides $200 million in grants to phase out the additive. It also eliminates the Clean Air Act 2 percent oxygenate standard and provides the safe harbor liability protection to ethanol producers. The Senate bill would also allow states to apply for a one-year waiver from the ethanol mandate, if they can demonstrate evidence of economic harm.

Hydroelectric provisions

Expedites the process by which hydroelectric projects achieve permits to operate; calls for license applicants to have “an agency trial-type hearing of any disputed issues”; authorizes $10 million for incentives; encourages efficiency improvements; calls for studies into increased hydroelectric generation at federal facilities and increasing electric power production.

Creates two new procedures for hydropower relicensing. Allows administration to review any party's suggestions for alternative conditions dictating dam operations or construction of fishways, but requires administration to approve conditions submitted by licensee so long as the conditions meet mandatory environmental protection conditions. Increases Bonneville Power Administration's borrowing authority from the administration's FY '03 budget request of $700 million to $1.3 billion.


Provides $1.8 billion for the Bush administration’s FreedomCar program and the related FreedomFuel initiative. Unveiled in February 2002, FreedomCar is a public-private research effort aimed at helping U.S. automakers overcome barriers to development of commercially viable fuel cell-powered passenger cars. The hydrogen fuel initiative aims to help the energy industry meet significant challenges associated with developing a nationwide hydrogen fueling network to support fuel cells.

Research and development for production, storage and fuel-cell programs. Under the tax title, $225 million is provided for R&D directed at hydrogen fuel cells.

Indian provisions

Streamlines leases and right-of-way approval for siting energy projects in Indian lands.

Gives Indian tribes power to approve contracts, leases and rights-of-way for electricity generation and distribution projects, without approval from the Interior secretary.

Nuclear policies

Authorizes $1.7 billion for nuclear energy research, development, demonstration, and commercial application activities through 2007; authorizes the Nuclear Energy Plant Optimization Program, Nuclear Power 2010 program and Advanced fuel recycling technology; reauthorizes the Price-Anderson Act through 2017 for Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensees, Energy Department contractors and nonprofit educational institutions; increases maximum assessment for nuclear reactors from $10 million to $15 million; establishes process for secure transfer of nuclear materials; calls for a NRC study on nuclear power plant security; authorizes carrying of firearms by NRC employees; requires a DOE study and a report to Congress on the feasibility of deep borehole disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste, emphasizing geological, chemical and hydrological characterization of deep borehole environments.

Price-Anderson Act is reauthorized until 2012. Establishes a DOE Office of Spent Nuclear Fuel Research. DOE called on to "aggressively" pursue construction of a new nuclear power plant by 2010. Prohibits DOE from reactivating the Hanford Fast Flux Test Facility.

Renewable energy

Authorizes $1.7 billion through 2007 for renewable energy research, development, demonstration and commercial application activities; establishes a net metering policy; authorizes the Renewable Energy Production Incentive through 2023, in which the Department of Energy will give 60 percent of appropriated funds to solar, wind, geothermal, or closed-loop biomass technologies facilities if the budget would not fully fund production from all qualified renewable energy facilities in any given year; calls for a two-year study by the Interior and Agriculture departments on opportunities to develop renewable energy on public lands. Also calls for Interior to contract a three-month study on the potential for the development of wind, solar and ocean energy on the outer continental shelf, assess existing federal authorities to develop such resources, and recommend statutory and regulatory mechanisms for such development. Calls for an additional three-month review by DOE of the available assessments of renewable energy resources available within the United States, and new assessments as necessary.

Mandates electricity suppliers generate 10 percent of power from renewable energy sources by 2020. Includes a federal purchase requirement under which the government must buy 7.5 percent of its energy from renewables by 2010. The cost of energy credits to help companies satisfy the renewable portfolio standard set at 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour.


The $18.1 billion package includes: credits for marginal well oil and gas production; temporary repeal of the alternative minimum tax for “intangible” drilling or development costs; incentives for nonconventional source production, including from oil shale, tar sands, coal seams and landfills; and delays for rental payments and exploration cost expenses. Also includes credits, ranging from $500 to $3,000 per vehicle, for qualified hydrogen fuel cell and new advanced lean burn technology vehicles. Provides tax credits for purchase of solar systems, fuel cell electricity generation, home and business energy efficiency improvements and combined heat and power systems.

Includes a $14.5 billion tax package with no offsets, with large credits approved for the purchase of alternative motor vehicles and electric cars and incentives for the purchase of energy efficient appliances. Targets energy sectors across the board, with up to 10-year tax breaks proposed for renewable energy, alternative vehicles, energy efficiency programs, clean coal technology, oil and natural gas production, Indian reservations and electricity restructuring initiatives.

Chart prepared by Emily M. Lehr, AGI Government Affairs Program

Sources: Environment & Energy Daily

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.

Posted August 14, 2003

  Information Services |Geoscience Education |Public Policy |Environmental
Publications |Workforce |AGI Events

agi logo

© 2016. All rights reserved.
American Geosciences Institute, 4220 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22302-1502.
Please send any comments or problems with this site to:
Privacy Policy