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  Taking The Hill
Posted 3/12/2006
By Caroline Fuller

McCain, Lieberman Offer Changes, New Incentives to Climate Bill

To garner new and renewed support for the senate amendment to the H.R.6 Climate Bill, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is considering changes to the legislation that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The main changes will affect three fundamental areas of the bill and would also require first-time economy-wide mandates for reduction of carbon dioxide.

To gain support from both Republicans and Democrats, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., is co-sponsoring the bill with McCain. Possible alterations to the legislation include changing deadlines and emission caps, offering incentives for the development of clean-coal technology and increasing permissible offsets. None of these changes require the installation of pollution controls. The climate bill was originally introduced in 2003, but failed to move. Many believe that the provision of offering incentives for nuclear power impedes the necessary support needed to pass this bill.

California Expands Low-Cost Auto Insurance Program

At the close of 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected more than 12 communities in 11 states to share a total of $2 million. The money will be given to educational institutions, non-profit organizations, state and local governments and community colleges to help educate individuals living in poor areas around Brownfields sites. Each of the 12 communities is expected to be given a grant of up to $200,000 to expedite the training programs. These grants will not only help to clean up the waste sites, but will provide employment opportunities for citizens in the communities. The EPA has awarded upward of $445 million and 1,280 grants since beginning the Brownfields Program.

California to Calculate Auto Insurance Rates Based on Driver's Record

To promote higher insurance coverage among lower-income families, John Garamendi, California's insurance commissioner, has expanded the California Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program (CLCA) to eight additional counties. This program provides eligible good drivers who have low incomes with the state-required liability coverage for under $400 per year.

California currently has more than 3 million uninsured drivers traveling its highways and roads daily. To be eligible for CLCA, candidates must have no more than one at-fault accident or moving violation in the last three years and their gross yearly income must be 250 percent below the federal poverty level. The CLCA was created in 1999 and is not supported by government funding but rather by California licensed insurance companies.

New Fuel Economy Estimate Measures Introduced by EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has introduced new methods to provide consumers with more fuel-efficient information when shopping for vehicles.

In cooperation with President George W. Bush's encouragement of energy conservation, the EPA is proposing updated vehicle-specific data replacing current city and highway mpg information on window stickers. The EPA is considering new factors be considered in calculating the data, including road grade, wind, tire pressure, load and different fuel properties.

Currently, the mpg information provided to consumers only considers high speed/rapid acceleration, air conditioning use and cold temperature operation. It is estimated that under the new methods, city mpg will drop between 10 percent to 20 percent and highway mpg between 5 percent to 15 percent based on vehicle type.

The new measures will likely take effect for 2008 vehicles, which become available in the fall of 2007.

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