U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, introduced legislation in Congress Jan. 16 aimed at improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by developing additional forms of renewable energy and paving the way for better fuel consumption by vehicles.
S. 298, the Renewable Energy, Fuel Reduction and Economic Stabilization and enHancement Act of 2007, or REFRESH Act, would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel usage by about 530 million metric tons in the United States by 2025 — a 7 percent decrease from currently anticipated emissions levels that year.
“In Alaska, we have certainly seen firsthand the effects of a warming climate in recent years,” said Murkowski. “It only makes sense that we take common-sense steps now to improve fuel efficiency, to promote the development of a wider range of alternative energy technologies and to encourage Americans to buy more fuel efficient vehicles. This bill includes vital measures we must take to reduce fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions.”
Murkowski is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy for the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Her bill is being offered as a companion to S. 183, legislation introduced Jan. 4 by Alaska senior Sen. Ted Stevens to raise the nation’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFÉ, standards of automobiles to 40 miles per gallon within a decade.
$250 million in grants proposedMurkowski’s bill invests in alternative and renewable energy and promotes greater efficiency of energy use in the transportation sector. It would provide up to $100 million each in grants for the development of geothermal power, all forms of ocean energy and small hydro-electric plants, along with tax credits to spur that development.
It would extend to 2012 a tax credit; lift a cap on tax credits available to encourage the purchase of “hybrid” and advanced fuel-efficient vehicles; and authorize up to $100 million in research aid to help “plug-in” hybrids and storage battery development.
Additionally, the legislation provides up to $50 million in grants to states and local communities to encourage reductions in traffic congestion by helping states establish telecommuting and flexible-work programs that keep motorists off roadways during rush hours.
Together with Stevens’ existing and proposed legislation, the bill seeks to cut U.S. oil consumption by nearly 5 million barrels per day and carbon dioxide emissions by about 530 million metric tons yearly by 2025.
Unlike current law, the bill also would require a “truth in advertising” provision for the CAFE standards to be based on the actual fuel economy that vehicles would achieve under real-world driving conditions.