US Senate's energy bill

Published: Sunday 31 July 2005

The Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (sscp) has been cleared by the Union ministry of environment and forests and the cabinet committee. Despite this,

the crucial project, which will cut through a natural chain of shoals to link the Gulf of Mannar with the Palk Bay, needs the attention of the world's environmentalists. The region is the habitat of many endangered organisms of subtropical, shallow marine environments, such as algae, fish, coral reefs, sea horses and several kinds of plants. The aquatic wealth of this very protected, subtropical, shallow marine region may be affected adversely as the regional food chain will be disturbed.

For this reason, the government of India would do well to re-evaluate the project. A look at the guidelines of the us Environmental Protection Agency may be helpful. These include the conceptual relevance of ecosystem function, feasibility of implementation, response variability in time and space, besides the ability to convey information on ecological conditions meaningful to resource management. In addition, as the area is vulnerable to tsunamis, the sscp may also be evaluated for its tsunami-preparedness.

Centre of Advanced Study in Geology
Sagar, Madhya Pradesh Its finance committee had approved a us $14 billion tax incentive rewarding alternative fuels and energy efficiency; the approved bill promises tax breaks for those who buy gas-electric hybrid cars, energy-efficient appliances or homes. Other key green measures include us$550 million in grants over the next five years to perfect and promote a new class of biofuels and double ethanol use in gasoline to 30.3 billion litres by 2012. It also moots mandatory reliability standards for electric power grids, thus ending the current system of industry self-regulation.

A clash between the Senate and the House is inevitable. While the former has budgeted us $8 billion energy-related tax incentives, majority of it for renewables, the latter had given most of its us $8 billion tax breaks to fossil fuels. While the House bill permits oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Senate bill remains silent on the issue. The Senate bill also calls for reducing oil use by one million barrels a day in the next 20 years. President George Bush wants Congress to pass the bill by August 2005.

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