President Bush signed it into law on December 19, 2007, which responded to his "Twenty in Ten" challenge in the State of the Union Address to improve vehicle fuel economy and increase alternative fuels.
The stated purpose of the act is “to move the United States toward greater energy independence and security, to increase the production of clean renewable fuels, to protect consumers, to increase the efficiency of products, buildings, and vehicles, to promote research on and deploy greenhouse gas capture and storage options, and to improve the energy performance of the Federal Government, and for other purposes.”. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promoted the Act as a way of lowering energy costs to consumers..
The bill originally sought to cut subsidies to the petroleum industry in order to promote petroleum independence and different forms of alternative energy. These tax changes were ultimately dropped after opposition in the Senate, and the final bill focused on automobile fuel economy, development of biofuels, and energy efficiency in public buildings and lighting.
The bill signed into law in December 2007 was an 822-page document changing U.S. energy policy in many areas.
Key provisions were:
Title II, the “Royalty Relief for American Consumers Act of 2007,” addressed an oversight that occurred when the Interior Department issued oil and gas leases for off-shore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in 1998 and 1999. The leases didn’t include price thresholds that require companies to pay royalties to the Federal Government when the price of oil and gas exceeds a certain level. These companies would be required to renegotiate their leases to include price thresholds that are equal or less than thresholds described in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. Companies who failed to renegotiate their leases or pay the fees would not be allowed to obtain any oil or gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico.
Title II also repealed several provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. One provision suspended royalty fees on oil and gas production in certain waters of the Gulf of Mexico. A provision of the Energy Policy Act that protects drilling permit applicants from additional fees to recover the cost of processing paperwork would also be repealed, and special policies for leases in the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska and royalty relief for specific offshore drilling in Alaska would be discontinued.
Title III of the bill created a Strategic Energy Efficiency and Renewables Reserve, an account to hold additional money received by the Federal Government as a result of the enactment of the act, and to offset the cost of subsequent legislation.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said that the bill would punish an industry that has made many Americans wealthy for generations, adding that "Congress and various Administrations have perhaps imposed more regulations on the oil and gas industry than any other industry in the United States." The Chamber said it supported the rapid development of alternative fuels but that the new technologies are not developed enough, and are insufficient to make any real difference. It believed more regulation on oil and gas producers is not the answer to the energy problem.
Conservative activist and president of Americans for Tax Reform Grover Norquist characterized the bill’s provisions regarding renegotiation of leases as a violation of binding contracts, calling the bill “a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge” since it wouldn’t create tax cuts to offset the additional revenue it would raise.
Representative Ted Poe said the bill “will decrease U.S. exploration and will increase our dependence on foreign oil,” and, “by raising taxes and fees on oil and gas companies that choose to manufacture in America, the U.S. will become a less attractive place to produce oil and natural gas. This essentially creates incentives for foreign importation and could kill manufacturing jobs in an industry that employs nearly 1.8 million Americans.”
Opponents included Democratic Senators Claire McCaskill, Mary Landrieu, Carl Levin, and Debbie Stabenow. House Democratic opponents were John Barrow and Jim Marshall of Georgia, Nick Lampson of Texas, and Dan Boren of Oklahoma
Some have criticized the bill as unconstitutionally regulating the electrical lighting efficiency options of the citizens of the United States. Representative Ted Poe contends that the United States Constitution does not give the federal government the power to determine what light bulbs people are allowed to use. Others have criticized compact fluorescent lighting for containing mercury. EPA recommendations state that compact fluorescent light bulbs should be recycled due to their mercury content. The EPA suggestions for cleaning up broken compact fluorescent light bulbs are also relatively strict. At the time of consideration for the bill, compact fluorescent light bulbs were made only in China.
Proponents believed that investing the new tax revenue in renewable energy resources would foster a new industry, creating more jobs and helping to reduce American dependency on oil imports. They claimed that as many as 3.3 million new jobs would be created, cutting unemployment, adding $1.4 trillion to the gross national product in the economy, and paying for itself within ten years. Air quality would be improved by reducing the amount of emissions released by using a cleaner energy source other than oil.
The initial version of H.R. 6 passed the House of Representatives on January 18, 2007, by a vote of 264 to 163. The Senate version passed 65-27 on June 21, but bore almost no resemblance to the original bill. Rep. Pelosi indicated on Oct 10 that instead of sending the bill to a conference committee, the House would negotiate informally with the Senate to resolve their differences.
The House took up the energy bill again in December, passing a new version on December 6. This version, renamed the "Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007", restored the oil industry tax increases of the original bill. It also added a requirement that U.S. electric utilities must obtain 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020.
When this bill was introduced to the Senate, the new provisions became the focus of debate. The White House and Sen. Domenici warned that Bush would veto the bill because of the tax portion. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Democrats had "shown how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory" by "inserting an enormous tax hike, a tax hike they knew would doom this legislation." Reid said Congress should not be intimidated by a veto threat, "We are the Congress of the United States. We can write things even though the president may not like them." Democrats said that the tax measure was modest and only took back tax breaks the oil companies received in 2004 and that they did not need them with oil prices at about $90 a barrel.
The House version of the bill (with $13 billion raised from the oil industry, a mandate that utilities rely on renewable energy for at least 15 percent of their power generation, and a $21.8 billion 10-year tax package) failed by a one vote margin. A final attempt to end debate and make way for a vote failed by 59 - 40 despite the return of four Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton (NY), Barack Obama (Ill.), Christopher Dodd (Conn.), and Joseph Biden (Del.). Nine Republicans voted in favor of ending debate while one Democrat, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) voted against it. Sen. John McCain was not present.
The revised Senate bill passed 86-8 on December 13. The House approved this final version 314-100 on December 18, and President Bush signed it the following day.