The Senate should jump-start the energy bill that stalled Thursday. It should also ensure that legislation isn't compromised in a manner that undermines its essential aim of promoting significant advances in alternative energy development, conservation and motor-vehicle fuel efficiency.
The bill faltered Thursday after New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici, the ranking Republican on the Energy Committee, threatened a filibuster over a "Renewable Portfolio Standard" that would require utility companies to produce 15 percent of their power from wind, solar or biomass sources by 2020. The senator argued, with some validity, that such a mandate would impose particularly high costs on regions, including the Southeast, that lack the sustained high winds needed to make large volumes of electricity generation from wind power feasible.
But surely the panel can craft a reasonable compromise that both encourages the development of new power sources while making allowances for such geographical differences. And surely the bill's stipulation that U.S. auto makers raise the average mileage of passenger vehicles to 35 miles a gallon by 2020 is an achievable standard.
After all, those auto makers, to comply with the 1975 Corporate Fuel Economy Act, raised that standard from 13 miles per gallon to the current 27.5 miles per gallon in a mere decade.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he plans to seek new support for the bill, perhaps with some needed revisions, next week. The House Natural Resource Committee approved similar legislation Wednesday.
Both chambers of Congress should make this issue a top priority, working in a bipartisan manner to produce legislation that would ease our dangerous dependence on foreign sources of oil while facilitating breakthroughs in the production of energy from alternative sources. Otherwise, we will never overcome what President Bush has aptly called our "addiction to oil."
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