Senate Approves Energy Bill

The U.S. Senate voted 88 to 11 on Thursday to undertake the most extensive U.S. energy legislation of the past 10 years. The debate over this energy bill has been on-going for the past six weeks. Senators approved the 458-page bill, as well as more than 100 amendments, covering issues as disparate as Alaska natural gas development, prohibition on Iraq oil purchases, an ethanol mandate, and electricity-market restructuring.

"This is a monumental undertaking, and it's had positive results," said Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., who co-authored the underlying bill with Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., will now choose negotiators who will try to reconcile the Senate bill's vast differences with energy legislation passed last August by the Republican-controlled House.

Unlike the House version, the Senate bill would substantially rewrite electricity and gasoline regulations, nearly triple ethanol consumption across ten years and require a more than fivefold increase in renewable power supply in 18 years. The Senate also rejected President George W. Bush's plan for limited oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which was approved by the House.