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Renewables requirement splits Senate

WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats proposed a requirement Wednesday that 15 percent of the nation’s electricity be produced by wind, biomass and other renewable energy sources.

Democrats want to include the renewable-fuel requirements on a broader energy bill before the Senate, but they faced strong opposition from senators who worried that such a national mandate would raise electricity costs in some states. A vote on the issue was expected today.

A House committee, meanwhile, voted to roll back some of the provisions Congress passed two years ago to streamline permitting for oil and gas development on federal land.

The energy package approved 26-22 by the House Resources Committee also would stiffen penalties for oil companies that shortchange the government on oil and gas royalties and would require that energy companies work more closely with ranchers and other surface landowners, a sensitive issue in the West.

Energy lobbyists said the bill, which now will be combined with other energy legislation in the House, would restrict domestic energy production. Environmentalists said it restores a balance between energy development and protecting public lands.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., the chief sponsor of the renewable-fuels proposal, said getting utilities to use more renewables “will reduce our dependence on traditional polluting sources of energy” and make a start in cutting carbon dioxide linked to global warming.

The Associated Press

Arizona Daily Star

14 June 2007