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And, in a sign of the growing impact the presidential race is having on the Senate, Republicans last week already began invoking the name of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin their partys vice presidential nominee in their energy talking points.
Republican progress in the energy debate and Gov. Palins close association with the issue certainly have to concern Congressional Democrats who know their energy stance puts them at odds with most Americans, Senate Republican Conference spokesman Ryan Loskarn said.
As for Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), the Democratic nominee, Nelson said he has discussed the bill with his camp and that while he may not support every aspect of the legislation, he favors moving it forward because of its bipartisan support.
While he may not agree with everything in it, first he supports the fact that its bipartisan, and secondly he can accept some drilling if its part of a comprehensive approach, Nelson said.
The draft bill would provide significant funding to boost the development and purchasing of energy-efficient vehicles, including a $7,500 tax credit for the purchase of a new advanced-fuel and fuel-efficient car or truck and up to $2,500 to upgrade older vehicles, according to a summary of the bill. It would also invest $15 billion in research and development efforts for efficient car batteries and alternative-fuel technologies.
The bill would also include more than $3 billion in new investment in the development of renewable energy sources such as biofuels, solar and wind energy while expanding drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
State legislatures in Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia would also be given the ability to lease drilling off their shores, and the bill would formalize a 50-mile buffer zone where new oil production is not allowed.