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House Democrats Renew Push for Energy Independence

House Democrats are resurrecting legislation left for dead in the 109th Congress that would seek to reduce the United States’ dependence on foreign oil and fight global warming.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced Thursday that he will reintroduce the Program for Real Energy Security Act and have the House vote on the bill, or at least some parts of it, before August.

Hoyer backed the same legislation in the 109th Congress, but the Republican majority opposed it and it never came up for a vote.

Hoyer predicted the bill would fare better in the 110th Congress, noting it already has almost 100 Democratic co-sponsors, including the chairmen of several committees.

The bill would create a bipartisan National Energy Security Commission comprising industry, government and academics to develop national energy goals, which Congress would be mandated to act upon under expedited rules.

It also would create a federal center focused on doubling fuel efficiency standards for automobiles and diversifying fuel types; provide grants to encourage private sector investment in biofuel distribution equipment; and include incentives to improve transportation of biofuels and expanded use of public transit.

The legislation would expand requirements to use alternative fuels in federal vehicle fleets.

Hoyer said the bill takes steps to make the “hard decisions needed to move toward energy independence … and to address the reality of global warming.”

House and Senate Democrats Thursday also introduced legislation that would require federal agencies to conduct a comprehensive inventory of the nation’s ability to store captured carbon dioxide underground — a process known as carbon sequestration. Backers believe carbon sequestration could help reduce the gases that are linked to global warming.

The bill, titled the National Carbon Dioxide Storage Capacity Assessment Act of 2007, would require the U.S. Geological Service, the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency to survey natural geologic features to assess their suitability to hold carbon dioxide.

Sens. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) introduced the Senate version, while Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, backed a companion bill.

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