(Renewable) power struggle

The House of Representatives passes an historic energy bill. But President Bush is already fondling his veto pen

By Andrew Leonard

Published December 7, 2007 12:20AM (EST)

By a vote of 235-181, the House of Representatives passed an ambitious energy bill on Thursday afternoon. Among other things, the bill mandates significant increases in automotive fuel efficiency, continues crucial incentives for solar and wind power development, and requires that electrical utilities generate 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020. Oh, and it also repeals a bunch of tax breaks long enjoyed by the oil and natural gas industries.

But smacking Big Oil around won't go very far with this White House. The Bush administration has already promised to veto the bill, should it pass the Senate with the renewable energy requirements and tax break repeals intact. The chances for the bill getting even that far, given how narrowly divided the Senate is, are grim.

But environmentalists shouldn't get too down-hearted by the gloomy prospects for the bill. An energy bill with teeth will require Democratic control of the White House and Congress. If and when President Bush does decide to veto whatever bill emerges from Congress, he will be handing whoever emerges as the Democratic candidate for President a nice, solid club with which to whack Republicans.

Not to mention further solidifying his place in history.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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