What: All Issues : Environment : Renewable Energy : CLEAN Energy Act (H.R. 6), Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) second-degree amendment to Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) amendment to require electric utilities to produce 15 percent of their power from sources such as solar and wind by 2020; Domenici's amendment would have upped the requirement to 20 percent but allowed nuclear and "clean" coal to fulfill the mandate/Motion to table (kill) the Domenici amendment (2007 senate Roll Call 211)
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CLEAN Energy Act (H.R. 6), Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) second-degree amendment to Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) amendment to require electric utilities to produce 15 percent of their power from sources such as solar and wind by 2020; Domenici's amendment would have upped the requirement to 20 percent but allowed nuclear and "clean" coal to fulfill the mandate/Motion to table (kill) the Domenici amendment
senate Roll Call 211     Jun 14, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on a motion to table (kill) an amendment to legislation to reduce the country's dependence on fossil fuels that would have required electric utility companies to produce 20 percent of their power from "renewable" energy sources by 2020 but would have allowed them to use nuclear energy and so-called clean coal to meet the requirement.

The amendment was offered by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) as a second-degree amendment to another amendment offered by fellow New Mexican Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D). A second-degree amendment is basically an amendment to an amendment. Bingaman's amendment would have required electric utilities to generate 15 percent of power from sources such as solar and wind and biomass by 2020, but would not have allowed coal or nuclear energy sources to be counted towards the mandate.

The stalemate over this amendment took up two days of debate on the energy package, and although Bingaman had enough votes to pass his amendment with a simple majority vote, he first had to get past the second-degree amendment offered by Domenici. Democrats insisted they had enough votes to seek cloture for the Bingaman amendment, but Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declined to seek cloture, a move he later said he regretted. Cloture is the only procedure in the Senate that restricts the amount of time a bill may be considered and prevents one Senator or group from holding up the legislation by refusing to yield the floor, and act known as a filibuster. Under Senate rules, cloture requires three-fifths of the chamber, normally 60 votes.

Domenici and other opponents of Bingaman's amendment maintained that it would give a significant disadvantage to states that could not exploit wind energy, Southern states in particular. The language in Bingaman's amendment would allow utilities to trade credits for renewable energy generation or pay a compliance fee, but Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said that setup would essentially serve as an electricity tax in the Southeast.

Bingaman responded that utilities could also use biomass to meet the requirement and use wood chips or agricultural waste to power electricity generation.

In the end, Bingaman and his fellow Democrats had sufficient support in the Senate to table Domenici's proposal but not the support within their own leadership or the chamber at large to muster the 60 votes necessary to end debate and bring Bingaman's amendment up for a vote.

On a vote of 56 to 39, the Senate tabled Domenici's amendment, with Democrats voting unanimously in favor of putting it aside and seven Republicans breaking ranks to join them. Thus, a proposal by Domenici to require electric utilities to generate 20 percent of their power by 2020 from "renewable" resources that included nuclear and "clean" coal was set aside, but the Democratic-supported alternative to require utilities to generate 15 percent of their energy with renewable sources such as solar, wind and biomass (and not nuclear power or "clean" coal) was not brought up for a vote.

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