The growing appetite in the US for green legislation was underlined this weekend after the House of Representatives voted in favour of a bill that would require utilities to produce 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020 and would divert $16bn of tax breaks from big oil to green energy sources.
However, the bill is extremely unlikely to make into law after President Bush vowed that he would veto the legislation amid fears it would lead to higher electricity prices.
Under the wide-reaching bill, which was passed this Saturday, new efficiency standards for appliances and buildings would be imposed, traditional light bulbs would be banned, and $16bn of oil industry tax breaks enacted in 2005 would be repealed and the money diverted to fund green energy research and renewable energy projects.
The bill, entitled the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act, was passed by 220 votes to 190 with 26 Republicans voting in favour and 9 Democrats opposed.
However, the new law looks destined for failure after senior Republican's accused it of undermining the energy industry and the White House said it would veto the bill, insisting it unfairly penalised the oil industry and would lead to higher energy prices.
Representative Don Young, an Alaskan Republican who led the opposition to the bill told the New York Times that, "It tells us to turn the lights out, that’s what this bill does. There is no energy in this bill at all."
But despite the apparent futility of the new bill it still serves to emphasise the groundswell of political opinion building behind green energy in the US. Earlier this year, the Senate also passed a raft of green energy legislation, which proposed fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, while many individual states have also enacted legislation to limit carbon emissions.
Democrats predict that if an agreement can be reached to merge the legislation from the Senate and the House it would revolutionise the US' energy policy and result in a package of environmental measures at least on a par with those currently being developed in Europe.
But unfortunately for renewable energy companies and green business leaders it looks certain that they will have to wait until at least 2009 and the end of the Bush presidency for any of these bills to make it into law.
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