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Senate passes energy package 94-4.

The Senate voted 94-4 last week to approve comprehensive energy legislation. The legislation promotes increased domestic oil production, use of more alternative fuels and adherence to energy conservation goals.

Of direct interest to cities is the "Fleet and Alternative Fuels" provision in Title IV of the bill. The provisions apply to all cities which: 1) have a 1980 census population in excess of 250,000; 2) own, operate, lease or control a total of 50 or more vehicles in the metropolitan area; and 3) have 20 or more vehicles which are centrally fueled or capable of being centrally fueled.

Similar legislation was prevented from floor action last November by a failed cloture vote. The filibuster was led by members opposed to the bill's provision on oil and gas drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Senate Energy Committee Chairman J. Bennett Johnston's (D-La.) latest energy package (S. 2166) approved last week excludes the ANWR provision and a provision to increase the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. CAFE standards establish the fleet average standards for automobiles and trucks. The current CAFE standard is 27.5 miles per gallon.

The bill promotes the purchase of alternatively fueled vehicles by the federal government and by municipalities. By the year 2000, 70 percent of municipal fleet purchases would be required to be alternatively fueled vehicles. Law enforcement and emergency vehicles as well as construction equipment would be exempt from this requirement.

This fleet provision differs from the Clean Air Act provision in two ways: 1) it requires that "alternative" fuels be used in such vehicles, which is not mandated in the Clean Air Act, and 2) it expands the program beyond the designated worst nonattainment areas to make it nationwide in scope.

The bill also proposed amendments to the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUCHA). The bill would incease competition among electricity providers at the wholesale level by allowing independent, non-utility corporations into the power generating business. The bill creates a new class of independent power producers called "exempt wholesale generators" (EWGs) which would be free from corporate and geographic restrictions currently imposed under PUHCA.

EWGs would be allowed to build, own, and operate power plants and sell their electricity anywhere in the United States. However, the electricity generated could only be marketed on a wholesale basis to utilities and municipalities.
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Title Annotation:energy legislation includes provisions for promoting purchase of alternatively fueled vehicles by cities with fleets of 50 or more vehicles
Author:Yamane, Sandra
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Feb 24, 1992
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