LegislatorPush Forward Bills on Alternative Energy, Cleaner Ships, State Emissions Limits

Washington, D.C., USA – Members of the U.S. House and Senate have taken action on bills that would extend millions of dollars in alternative energy tax credits, require large ships to use cleaner fuel and allow states to set their own tailpipe emissions limits.

The House of Representatives has passed the Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008, a package of $54 billion in tax incentives and tax breaks that include $17 billion set aside for energy.

The bill would extend the production tax credit for wind energy by one year and the production tax credit for biomass, geothermal, hydropower and other alternative energy for three years, according to the Wall Street Journal. It would also create a new tax credit for making biofuels from non-food sources such as switchgrass, and includes incentives for manufacturing energy-efficient products, carbon capture and sequestration projects, and improving the efficiency of buildings.

The bill goes to the Senate next, though the 263-160 vote it was passed by isn’t enough to override a presidential veto, which has been threatened unless certain portions are removed.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has passed two emissions-related bills.

The Marine Vessel Emissions Reduction Act of 2008 would require any ocean-going vessel, U.S. or foreign, using U.S. ports to use fuel with reduced sulfur content.

Fuel currently in use has a sulfur content many thousand times higher than diesel used by trucks in the U.S., according to the Associated Press.

The committee also passed a bill that would allow California and 14 other states to create stricter tailpipe emissions limits. It would overturn an Environmental Protection Agency decision that denied California a Clean Air Act waiver to adopt limits on emissions from new vehicles.

Committee chair Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has not decided whether to put the bill before the Senate, according to the San Jose Mercury News, for fear of a presidential veto. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has not acted on a similar bill.

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