Ask TOD: Contribute to Legislative Sausage (aka H R 2337, aka The House Energy Bill) Being Made

Dear TOD readers - we have an opportunity to find out how legislative sausage is made and potentially contribute as a 'diner' with special requests to the Chefs (Members of Congress). If successful we might just get the meal (or at least better seasoning) we want instead of settling for what's dished out.

The Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce and Science Committee Energy Bills are the items on the ala carte menu that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rangell and Science Committee Chairman Bart Gordon will be negotiating with --- the big missing piece and player is Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall and H. R. 2337. The House will be debating the Energy bill this month and we need to get input where we have expertise and identify the good, bad and ugly provisions ideally by next week.

Speaker Pelosi strongly supports H.R. 2337 and there may be other blog reports about its contents. The GOP leadership and US Chamber of Commerce oppose the bill.

In addition to accumulating advice and analysis here, you can recommend your own Representative make specific improvements in the bill with changes to or deletions of specific provisions. Remember nothing new can be added but existing language/provisions can be changed. It's a daunting task. Those with expertise in specific areas should concentrate on those areas. Collective intelligence from great minds will be enormously helpful--we will be digesting this and sending it on to relevant staffers and House membership.

These are provisions that the Science Committee believes are in its jurisdiction and that can be improved over the bill approved by the Natural Resources Committee. We will try and get specific language and upload to this page in coming days.

Comments from experts on these topics would be welcome.

The Science Committee is in negotiations with the Natural Resources Committee with the Parliamentarian as the referee concerning jurisdiction over these provisions.

H.R. 2337, the Energy Policy Reform and Revitalization Act of 2007

(Sections 303, 305, 306, 441, 471, 472, and 473 are pasted below, but the entire text can be found here then type in H R 2337 into the search box.)


Section 303. Increasing Energy Efficiencies for Water Desalination.

This section directs the Secretary of the Interior, in conjunction with the Secretary of Energy, to implement a program to research methods for improving the energy efficiency of reverse osmosis technology for water desalination, water contamination, and water recycling.

The Water Desalination Act of 1996 (42 U.S.C. 10301 note; Public Law 104-298) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:
`(a) Research Program- The Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary of Energy, shall implement a program to research methods for improving the energy efficiency of reverse osmosis technology for water desalination and water recycling.
`(b) Report- Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall submit to Congress a report which shall include--
`(1) a review of existing and emerging technologies, both domestic and international, that are likely to improve energy efficiency at existing and future desalination and recycling facilities; and
`(2) an analysis of the economic viability of energy efficiency technologies.'.

Section 305. OTEC Regulations.

This section directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to use its authority under the Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) Research, Development and Demonstration Act of 1980 to reissue regulations providing for the licensing, construction, and operation of related facilities in U.S. waters. Currently, OTEC facilities are unable to operate in U.S. waters without a license from NOAA.

When awarding any concession, whether operated under a concession contract, special use permit, or lease, the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service shall give preference to proposals that are likely to result in demonstrable energy savings and the implementation of environmentally sustainable practices.

Section 306. Biomass Utilization Pilot Program.

This section replaces Section 210 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, establishing a Biomass Utilization Pilot Program to provide incentives for biomass utilization. Through the utilization of technical assistance and grants, the pilot program will aid in developing and evaluating appropriate technologies that will be integrated with long-term forest management planning processes. The program applies to National Forest System Lands and Bureau of Land Management lands, but excludes old growth forests, wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, inventoried roadless areas, and components of the National Landscape Conservation System.


Subtitle D-Natural Resources and Wildlife Programs

Section 441. Interagency Council on Climate Change.

This section creates a Climate Change Adaptability Interagency Governmental Panel to address the impacts of and coordinate efforts related to climate change on federal lands, the ocean environment, and the federal water infrastructure. The panel would include agency heads from the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Forest Service, Minerals Management Service, NOAA, Bureau of Reclamation, and Council on Environmental Quality.

`Sec. 320. (a) In General- The Secretary shall report to the Congress not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this section, and every 5 years thereafter, on the possible and projected impacts of climate change on--
`(1) oceanic and coastal ecosystems, including marine fish and wildlife and their habitat, and the commercial and recreational fisheries and tourism industries associated with them; and
`(2) coastal communities, including private residential and commercial development and public infrastructure in the coastal zone.
`(b) Contents- Each report under this section shall include information regarding--
`(1) the impacts that may be due to climate change that have occurred as of the date of the submission of the report; and
`(2) the projected future impacts of climate change.
`(c) Impacts- The impacts reported on under subsection (b) shall include any--
`(1) increases in sea level;
`(2) increases in storm activity and intensity;
`(3) increases in floods, droughts, and other extremes of weather;
`(4) increases in the temperature of the air and the water on oceanic and coastal ecosystems, with a particular focus on vulnerable fisheries and ecosystems; and
`(5) changes in the acidity of the ocean surface associated with an increase in concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.'.

Subtitle E-Ocean Programs

Section 471. Ocean Policy, Global Warming, and Ocean Acidification Program.

This section directs the Secretary of Commerce to develop and implement a national strategy to support coastal state and federal agency efforts to predict, plan for, and mitigate the impacts on ocean and coastal ecosystems from global warming. In addition, the strategy would work to ensure the recovery, resiliency and health of ocean and coastal ecosystems. The secretary of Commerce would be required to consult with the Secretary of the Interior, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Regional Fishery Management Councils, coastal States, Indian tribes, local governments, conservation organizations, and scientists.

Section 472. Planning for Climate Change in the Coastal Zone.

This section adds a new coastal climate change resiliency grant program to the Coastal Zone Management Act. The program would provide grants to states to voluntarily develop plans to amend existing coastal programs to address potential climate change impacts. In addition, grants would be provided to implement strategies developed within such plans.

Section 473. Enhancing Climate Change Predictions.

This section establishes a National Integrated Coastal Ocean Observation System, administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric and coordinated within a regional framework that includes both federal and non-federal partners. The observation system would gather data on the ocean environment to refine and enhance predictive capabilities for climate change and to provide other immediate societal benefits, such as better fisheries management and safe navigation.

We can also use your eyeballs on H R 2776, the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2007 (Introduced in House) (go to the site and type in "H R 2776").

Folks, I personally believe the current energy bills are like trying to kill an elephant with a peashooter- it is past time for small changes. However marginal changes are what Congress CAN DO. Our founders designed our federal government to impede significant changes in the status quo by the Congress and the President. But historically, it sometimes happens that small steps, like marginal changes in tax rates for instance, can have significant macro economic effects.

Is it time to think about a political action committee? TODPAC? Seems to me there are huge resources here at TOD -- intellectual, creative, spiritual perhaps, and even financial. If any emerging organization can make a difference in the world, TOD is a prime candidate.

I think that is a great idea.

I would hope that this site could call for a policy hierarchy: demand reduction, energy efficiency, renewable energy. Legislation to stop products that waste energy, incentivising through labelling and tax. Focus on sustainable transport like high speed rail, bus and urban rapid transport. Diversion of funds and tax breaks from big oil to renewable sustainable forms of energy generation to stop the benefits they have from years of subsidy and headstart with economies of scale and years of technological innovation. A planning system where sustainablibility is considered, i.e. location and desity in relation to public transport and social infrastructure and a city centres and local shopping centres first approach to commercial development. A focus on pedestrian links, safeguarding of pristine countryside, etc etc.

In fact, whilst writing this, I'm realising that I'm advocating that America becomes more like Europe! Fat chance, but its worth a try.

all wonderful points. however, let's keep it on topic--those changes are not going to occur in THIS can we tinker with this legislation to optimize it?

Honestly I think the most important energy bill we could have right now is a manhattan project to develop technologies that are like the ones on this list:

There's nothing wrong with blogwhoring, but as the post requests, this is about this piece of legislation. Realpolitik please.

Sorry, the blogwhoring was my signature which i'm deleting now. Didn't know that was against the rules. Still I don't understand why a manhattan project isn't talked about more.

no, no...blogwhoring is completely ok here, just don't overdo it...and just not two links for the same blog in the same comment preferably. :)

I COMPLETELY agree with you on the Manhattan Project idea, it's something we've been advocating for a very long time here at TOD. However, in reading over this bill, what you will find is that there is no sense of urgency...and that is necessary (nor do I think that urgency exists in the popular will) for reallocation of resources from existing programs.

This bill actually does make a little progress, but it's no panacea, and it's about 1/100th of what needs to be done.

The energy bill should be real simple:

1. Conservation measures - such as banning incandescent light bulbs, requiring replacement market tires to have the same properties (sidewall stiffness) as the original tires the vehicle was sold with, efficiency standards for appliances, etc.

2. Crash program for converting more commuter rides to public transit

3. Require CAFE standard to be increased by 80% in the next ten years for gasoline powered vehicles, 75% for flex-fuel vehicle, and 25% for hydrogen powered vehicles. Give appropriate credit for plug in battery hybrids.

4. Ban the production of hydrogen for transportation purposes by reforming natural gas.

5. Moratorium on new starts of fossil and nuclear fueled power plants until non-hydro renewables are 30% of total non-hydro electricity generated (and no, coal to anything is not a renewable....)

6. Extend the PTC for all renewables for ten years, extend the biodiesel tax credit, drop the ethanol credits.

7. $20 billion to build the initial hydrogen fueling infrastructure

8. Develop a program ( I don't know exactly what) to develop the transmission capacity to take wind electricity from the great plains and solar electricity from the west to the major market areas.

and then let the market work. It'll never fly, of course....

A few weeks ago I tried writing a letter to my congressional delegation about this bill, but I despaired after about an hour of looking at the proposal because it is composed of so many micro-programs. So I am going to do what I did for the CAFE bill that is floating around in the Senate: write a general letter expressing that while I hope for is radical change, the minimum acceptable action is the passage of a slightly helpful bill that isn't totally dominated by pork. Besides, I think education of our legislators is the best we can hope for this round. Bush will probably veto whatever the Democrats produce (if they can even agree among themselves), so the exact details aren't too important.

how can we tinker with this legislation to optimize it?

Since the bill does so little, I guess suggestions on this bill don't really depend on whether one feels a need for an optimal fast collapse or an optimal long drawn out one? In which case time might be better spent learning how to grow beans and corn and maybe pet a frog as well as kiss its ass goodbye.

Sorry but I feel that our daemons will not be put in shackles to eventually and politely do our will.

I do not know what purpose it could serve, but this request for suggestions rather looks to be a herring drawn across the path. What's up professor, are you giving us a goose?

There is currently a discussion ragging at New Zealand's most popular political blog regarding peak oil. Anyone who wants to join me in some educating is very welcome. Thank you.

Good job, nice try, etc.

To quote GreyZone, just kindly leave them with their Bluepill... They really want to take it, let them.

You are all just ignorant sissies wearing chicken little costumes and praising a religion of doom while cheering on your enviroNazis, freak-wimp homosexual liberal pinko atheist commies who praise the wonders of Pol Pot and want to slaughter millions so they can destroy our economy and preach your freakish ways!!

As you can see, I went to that "IP" character's website. I mean, why even try? These people are not serious. Their critical thinking is more than askew... Still, I must say, that is some godly ability for patience you display there in your interaction with those life forms... In his post that guy just quotes Lynch and CERA and complains about cry wolf syndrome. Yay.

Either that guy and his cronies are the most foolish people I have observed on the internet in quite some time--or I am delusional. I'll take door number 1 please! ...

About Me

I'm witty, brilliant, charming, good-looking, sophisticated, and a great shag. I'm a thirty-something, obnoxious single guy with two passions in life: making money and shagging hot chicks. I also have extreme opinions that I've now decided to share with the world. So if you don't like them, or don't like

For those with time to kill (and be forewarned--moron alert!), I quoted the above from here.


To quote GreyZone again: "And people ask me why I'm a doomer?" ... A little propaganda is needed for buttressing, but really it's almost superfluous in the end--people are idiots all by themselves! Oddly enough, idiotic conservatives often prove it is smart to be conservative! Ah, but my heart still bleeds liberalism... At least he's honest about reproduction and money. There should be plenty of bimbos around that will fall for an idiot like that, as long as he's got enough money. (Although, people with a lot of money don't usually have crappy little blogs where they pass the time throwing fatuous virtual molotov cocktails... but, at least he's sophisticated right?)

I meant to say .... please forgive my above egregious display of blogwhoring, but New Zealanders are amongst the least peak-aware people in the developed world, and I’m really worried about my country.


No worries. Blogwhoring with the purpose of education is a good thing. :)

Really all you have to do is say 'Read Koppelaar's Oil Watch Monthly, look at every graph, and then come back to me'. I predict when they come back their faces will be several shades whiter.


As already mentioned, Bush will veto this legislation if it has any teeth.

However, Bush does love tax cuts (at least for rich people) so maybe we can sneak in a property tax exemption for the railroad companies?

Property taxes are usually a local affair, and I think they should stay that way.

However, I believe property taxes should be assessed against the value of the property only, instead of property plus any improvements as is normally the case in the U.S.A. Reducing or eliminating the improvements assessment would definitely help most RR companies' local tax bills (if they have any).

Or states could just buy the railroads' properties and lease them back to the railroads as the State of Vermont has done. However, Vermont got a better deal on its lines than other states would - it bought most of them from bankrupt companies.

My proposal is that any rail line that electrifies would get a property tax exemption (under the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution) for the rail line that was electrified.

Once exempt from property taxes, it makes sense to add back tracks torn up decades ago, build new intermodal (train-truck) transfer depots, improve signals, improve track quality (allowing higher speeds and or loads), building grade seperations where E-W trains cross N-S lines (today a E-W train goes, then a N-S train like a stop sign, severely limiting capacity for both lines. A new 10,000' grade seperation bridge outside Kansas City improved rail traffic and times in transit accross the nation recently. Similar improvements are badly needed outside Chicago and in Cajun Pass in California).

Secondarily, any taxing jurisdiction (using #s subject to debate) that lost more than 0.5% of their property tax revenues would have the amount above 0.5% compensated by the Federal Gov't; phased out straight-line over 25 years.

The first 0.5% lost would be their contribution to the national good in creating a non-oil transportation alternative.

Reducing or eliminating the improvements assessment would definitely help most RR companies' local tax bills (if they have any)

IF THEY HAVE ANY ? The railroads are routinely rapedd ! RRs do not vote and have few employees in most jurisdictions. New Jersey decided to dramatically raise taxes on the yards serving the ports in the 1950s since they were an easy target. Square miles of switchyards were closed in a couple of decades.

Property taxes are usually a local affair, and I think they should stay that way

Local property taxes on railroads affect the entire nation. Union Pacific or Norfolk Southern tears up one of two tracks just to lower their property taxes, adding days to transit times and reducing capacity by 75% (single tracks have to wait for east bound trains to clear before letting west bound trains onto the single track). Shippers several states away are affected by the "re-valuation" on local property taxes.

It is hard to overstate the corrosive effect of property taxes on railroads over the decades, whilst trucks get ROW completely free of property taxes.

Changing the property tax valuation to raw land only is an interesting variation, although it will not stop line abandonment. 3/4 of a loaf.

Best Hopes for Better non-oil transportation - Electrified Railroads,


Politics is the Art of the Possible

With that in mind, let me make a suggestion, taken from the last energy bill.

I have installed several (and talked others into installing) gas tankless hot water heaters. The $300 tax credit for homeowners was useful. Also the 10% credit for insulation (just materials, not installation) and Energy Star doors.

Since this passed once, an expanded version should be possible.

Two changes, make this credit available for EVERYONE (non-profits can get a check, churhes use limited hot water and are a perfect choice).. Tax credit for tax payers (landlords and renters can get the tax credit if they pay for installation, not just homeowners) and refund checks for those that do not have enough income to pay.

And increase all credits by 50%. $450 for tankless hot water heaters, 15% credit for insulation (materials only), energy Star doors, etc. And make the maximum $1,000/household instead of $500 (inflation + 50% increase).

Every natural gas saving water heater out there, every inch of insulation and weather tight insulated door will last us for decades, and stretch limited resources further. This (like the German new building standards) preapres us for the future.

And higher tax credits will motivate factory expansions to help cope with future demand as things get worse. (I heard that Bosch can build less than 100,000 gas tankless hot water heaters/year. I guess that Bosch supplies 1/3rd of the market) I could see demand peaking @ 5 million gas tankless hot water heaters/year once the idea gets out there).

Best Hopes for doing SOMETHING worthwhile,


Some more small steps.

Make 30% spares the new standard in rolling stock (beyond that fund whatever is needed to expand capacity on existing Urban rail lines; larger electrical supplies, longer platforms, etc.)

The FTA mandates only 10% spares for rolling stock on Urban Rail that they fund. Fund (seperately from TOO small New Starts, feds are de facto funding 30% of new Urban Rail, down from 80%).

Many lines have their ridership limited by available cars (Minneapolis ridership shrinks in the winter because the average diameter of a Minnesotan expands in the winter, not because people prefer driving in the winter) due to forced by FTA underestimation of riderhsip.

Add "someone" bombing Iran, a revolution in Saudi Arabia, major problems in Nigeria, etc. and, in a crisis (Peak Oil alone is going to cause a crisis) and existing Urban Rail cannot carry the extra load.

20% more cars will not be "enough" but it is a very good first step. Just ask staffers if running 8 car trains on DC Metro in an oil supply emergency would be a good idea (DC Metro is short of cars today).

BTW, new cars are built in the USA (or Canada or Mexico under NAFTA) and should last 30 to 40 years in service (extra spares extends fleet life but reality is that post-Peak Oil will be like WW II, every piece of junk that can roll will be needed).


I have been giving this some thought.

There is a MAJOR strategic (as in military as well as civil) advantages in having a non-oil transportation alternative.

I remember the incentives for the first 5,000 MW of new nukes (from memory) to restart the industry. We need the same to start electrifying our railroads.

Studies from the 1970s.

One proposal; a 33% tax credit for the first 1,500 miles of rail lines electrified and 15% thereafter.

If more than 1,500 miles open in the first 30 months (clock starts when 250 miles open), then the IRS prorates the 33% vs. 15% tax credit. Hopefully different RRs will be in a major rush to get in on that start-up bonus.

Figure $3 million/mile to electrify.


Also special federal funding to electrify commuter rail lines. Besides oil and operational savings# electrified trains speed schedules by about 10% (old 30 minutes commute now takes 27 minutes) due to faster acceleration and braking. More ridership due to faster schedule, and rolling stock goes further (first loco in morning in morning might make one more RT during morning rush hour).

# Savings include no time (AND labor) wasted refueling and handling fuel. No cold start idling (often 15-30 minutes in winter before entering service with labor costs & pollution). Electric locos last longer with less maintenance.

Most of North America is served by a Class I railroad duopoly#, with the limited competition that suggests.

Even if, say, Union Pacific finds that electrifying the lines from Los Angeles to El Paso, El Paso to Houston-New Orleans and El Paso-Dallas makes economic sense, why do it if BN-SF does not ? Why start an "arms race" when they can just pass on "fuel adjustment" charges to their customers ?

OTOH, if BN-SF starts to electrify, there will be tremendous pressure on UP to do like wise. And if Norfolk-Southern starts to electrify, CSX will feel compelled to do so in order to compete.

Electrified RRs tend to be faster and handle modestly larger volumes (say 20%, it "depends"). Customer service advantages.

# East-West accross Canada is Canadian National And Canadian Pacific. CN bought the British Columbian rail lines and has "more" there and goes further east into the maritimes than CP. CN also bought the Illinois Central and has a main line from Chicago to New Orleans on the east bank of the Mississippi River. CN covers North America with a giant "T" which is why Bill Gates is reported to have bought 10% of it.

West of the Mississippi is Union Pacific and Burlington Northern-Santa Fe (with KCS in one section). East of the Mississippi is Norfolk Southern and CSX (in Florida CSX and N-S ally Florida East Coast RR).

Kansas City Southern is a mainly North-South RR going from Kansas/Missouri to Texas, New Orleans and Mobile. They also bought most of the Mexican railways. In the USA, they add a 3rd party to the duopoly everywhere they go.

Chicago has all seven of the Class I railroads, New Orleans six, I *think* St. Louis has five and Kansas City four. Few others have more than two or three competing Class I railroads.

Politics is the Art of the Possible, but usually results in the expedient.

Hi Alan,

For the sake of discussion I would like to say that while I agree that rail is a jolly fine way to to travel (personal experience and lots of it) and it would be much more energy efficient for freight as well as personal transport, my only problem with what you wish to do is the timing. My feeling is that any mitigation by this or any other means might do more harm than good at this point.

Our population and our demand for more energy increase with no stop that I can see. Alternate energy and alternate means of transportation will only result in a system that has more energy to use and not a trade off. FF use will stop when we run out of it. (or the ability to use it)

I feel that global ecological change, peak oil, stressed energy systems along with population increase will result in an economic collapse at some point.

I think we are at a point where we may stave off the deluge momentarily by mitigation but will end up in a worse position eventually with an even larger population and more degraded ecosystem. We would still be facing economic collapse and, with that more degraded ecosystem, even less likelihood of some sort of recovery.

That is how I look at things from my vantage point, so show me Alan that I am standing in darkness on a mole hill and there is clear light from loftier heights.

Hope I am not Blogpimping here but try this very new and somewhat shaky site which offers a trifle of food and shelter and dare I say hope during times of world destruction and ennui.

Hi Crystal,

A good point, much discussed previously, in different ways.

re: "...stave off the deluge momentarily by mitigation but will end up in a worse position eventually with an even larger population and more degraded ecosystem."

Q: Is there a way to deal with this?

Some say, "possibly", and many say (in effect), "We have the technology and need only the social and political or cultural aspects to change as well."

Q: If we're going to speak in specifics, such as with Alan's proposals, then what about tying them to conservation measures? (Or, a set of ideas to address the consumer/user/population aspect of the problem.)

Is addressing this aspect something that can be approached in similar terms?

If someone's goal is as fast and as hard an economic collapse, social disruption & chaos and die-off as possible, then my goals are in direct contradiction of those goals.

Before significant mitigation can be put in place, society and our economies will be forced to deal with ever declining liquid fuels. So there will be an upper limit (rapidly declining) in conventional oil available.

It is unlikely that we will have to resources to pursue all proposed "solutions" (many or even most will be as worthless such as ethanol). Several "solutions" will make Global Warming worse and massively degrade the environment. CTL, tar sands and oil shale spring to mind.

My proposed solutions will reduce GW (trading 20 BTUs of diesel for 1 BTU of electricity seems like a good idea to me). They will also stop Urban Sprawl and probably reverse it, leaving more farmland for "later".

IMHO, society cannot fully fund crash programs in all areas. To the extent that Electrification of Transportation is funded, there is less funding for CTL, with the associated strip mining, massive CO2 release, etc.

And after TSHFT, I have seen photos of bamboo carts in Cambodia running down abandoned rail lines. When two meet, the pax of both get out and lift the lighter one off the tracks, let the heavier one pass, and put the lighter one back on. Long lived assets of today will still have some value tomorrow. And Urban Rail can run under terrible conditions. The day after the SF earthquake (in 1903 ?) streetcar lines were running again with makeshift poles, crude forcing of rails where distorted by the earthquake, etc.

There is a basic efficiency of steel wheels on steel rail that societies with even minimal resources will try to use.

At some point, the US WILL start trying to mitigate lower quantities of oil. My proposals seem to be the most benign available.

For example, "Step Four - Promote More Transportation Bicycling". Yes, more bicycles and bicycling may slow the rate of die-off in total collapse. Is that a good or bad thing ? As noted above, I think a good thing. And doing things to promote more bicycling seem to have benign environmental impacts. Society would be better off re-striping streets (taking lanes form rubber tires), re-timing stop lights with a "bike green" 2.5 seconds before a car green light and adding bike racks and a "rent-a-bike" program than building one more CTL plant.

Best Hopes for a Manageable and Properly Managed Decline,


How about some money to advertise that these credits are available?