Today, Congress passed the Energy Bill. Let's take a look at the score:
Improving Fuel Economy? Yes. 40 percent increase by 2020, from 25 miles per gallon to 35 miles per gallon.
Investing in Renewable Fuels? Yes. Ambitious goals for transition from corn ethanol to climate-friendly cellulosic ethanol.
Renewable Electricity Standard? No, not yet. The Senate failed to overcome objections lodged by Senators from the southeast who believe -- against all evidence to the contrary -- that the South is not a good region for turning the sun into energy.
Lighting and Appliance Efficiency? Yes.
Creating Green Jobs? Yes.
Building Efficiency? Yes. Although incentives for zero-emissions efficient building were cut back, these provisions are still a robust new initiative.
Nuclear Loan Guarantees? Not in the energy bill, although proponents are busy reinforcing the fact that without endless subsidies, nuclear electricity can't survive in a capitalist economy.
Long-term Production Tax Credit for Wind and Solar? No, not yet.
Ending the special tax deduction for Hummers? No, not now. Ouch. When the Senate dropped most tax provisions, this went with it, but it may soon return.
Overall, by 2030, the Energy Bill will reduce the U.S. global warming emissions by nearly a quarter of what's needed to save the planet and will reduce our consumption of oil by more than 4 million barrels per day, which is more than twice the amount of oil we currently import from the Persian Gulf. The strong energy efficiency provisions for our buildings and appliances will make more than 100 coal-fired power plants unnecessary, avoiding massive amounts of heat-trapping pollution.
In short, we are making serious progress towards breaking down the barriers to more energy efficiency and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
The fuel economy standards alone are historic. It has taken a decade to break down the opposition to a 10 mpg improvement in fuel economy standards. Since 2001, I have forced votes in committee and on the floor of the House year after year. Each time, we made progress. The majorities against our amendments got smaller and smaller. But with Bush opposed, Detroit addicted to SUVs and the Republicans ridiculing efficiency standards, we needed the shift that was delivered by the election of 2006 and Nancy Pelosi's new direction leadership. Even so, this was a struggle and shows how difficult it is to move America's elected representatives from the old carbon-emitting energy agenda to the new, clean technologies of the future.
Many of us cannot help but feel disappointed by the deferral of action on the Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) and the renewable energy production tax credit, particularly since the House was able secure support for both measures. Deferring the renewable energy revolution is a luxury that this country can ill afford-leading the world in clean technology will save American's money at home, strengthen our position in the global economy and cut the global warming pollution now overheating the planet.
During my time in Congress, I've learned to run marathons, not sprints. While getting 35 mpg over the finish line is a victory to celebrate, we must run renewable initiatives onto a new legislative track immediately.
Follow Sen. Ed Markey on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SenMarkey