July 27 (Reuters) - Senate Democrats unveiled their narrowed-down energy bill on Tuesday, focusing on offshore drilling reform and promoting alternative-fuel vehicles.
The draft Senate legislation effectively mirrors the House version of the oil spill bill, but adds energy efficiency provisions, a spokesman for the Pew Environment Group said.
Before Congress breaks for the August recess, House lawmakers are expected to vote on their version of the legislation. Congress may have to reconcile the two before passage.
Following are highlights of the Senate and House energy bills.
Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act [ID:nN2797530]
Harry Reid, Democrat from Nevada, Senate majority leader
* Removes the $75 million liability cap on companies owning or operating offshore oil rigs, making them responsible for all cleanup costs and damages associated with an oil spill.
* Requires federal regulations on oil spill response plans.
* Puts increased focus on federal and private sector research and development of oil spill removal and response technologies.
* Amends the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to strengthen planning and safety requirements, tighten oversight.
* Amends the Death on the High Seas Act to better deal with wrongful deaths, and corrects other outdated maritime and admiralty laws.
* Creates programs to support the infrastructure and deployment of plug-in electric vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles that use natural gas.
* Provides $3.8 billion for a rebate program for buyers of alternative fuel vehicles by 2013.
* Invests $5 billion in Home Star, an energy efficiency program.
* Authorizes a $900 million annual budget for the Land and Water Conservation Fund over the next five years.
* Increases the $1 billion liability cap of the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to $5 billion, and raises the amount oil companies must pay to the fund.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Consolidated Land, Energy and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act of 2010 [ID:nN15210454]
Nick Rahall, Democrat from Virginia, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee
Approved by Committee on Natural Resources
* Removes the $75 million liability cap on oil companies for damages incurred by their offshore drilling activities.
* Increases liability cap for vessels and onshore facilities.
* Prohibits oil companies with poor safety records from bidding for new offshore drilling leases, effectively barring BP Plc (BP.L)(BP.N) from starting new U.S. offshore operations.
* Permits or leases would be denied for more than 10 worker deaths or fines greater than $10 million as a result of violating federal or state health, safety or environmental laws in previous seven years.
* Amends the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to adapt new guidelines to leases and use of oil and gas royalty fees.
* Reforms oil and gas royalty rules to double fines for violation of payment guidelines and allow for federal compliance reviews.
* Reorganizes federal regulation of oil and natural gas operations by creating three agencies that are appointed by the president and approved by the Senate.
* The three agencies split the responsibilities on issuing onshore and offshore leases, policing operations and collecting royalty fees. (Compiled by Alina Selyukh and Jasmin Melvin; Editing by Marguerita Choy)