I caught the NYTimes complaining about the House version of the Energy Bill. They (including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) feel, for the sake of consensus, they should omit the 35 MPG requirement by 2020; a national Renewable Energy Standard (RES) for the utilities; and environmental protections on the way biofuels are grown.

As I have written previously, I think the 35 MPG standard is moot. Congress seems to forget that there is marketplace out there that is at least as strong as the House. Look at the sales figures for July. For the first time, the sales of the combined foreign makes exceeded 50 percent of sales. US automakers have to improve fuel economy whether they want to or not. The petroleum market continues to be tight and there is no end in sight. Passing the 35 MPG limit establishes a floor, not a ceiling, on how much fuel economy can improve. Let's face it, cars sold in the US, like many people who buy them, are obese and need to go on a diet. The benefit is quality of life and longevity in both cases. The penalty is the pain of breaking old, traditional habits that were carryovers from the 20th century.

Less obvious but as important to ABG readers is the RES and the environmental protection of biofuels production. When we go to PHEVs (plug in hybrids) we want the electric power we get to be a combination of hydro, wind, solar, gas/coal and nuclear with coal a less desirable energy source because of greenhouse gases. However, I doubt that anyone would refuse coal-generated electric power if that was all that was available. The RES minimizes the amount of coal utility customers would have to depend on. The biofuels protection section prevents any more abuses to the soils we have already abused quite a bit. I don't want biofuels that badly to want to see our precious croplands abused any further. Do you?

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