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Senate Energy Bill Moves Forward

New amendment to energy bill would use $29 billion in oil taxes to advance renewable energy.

The Senate continues to debate the broad energy bill that could to come to a vote this week, including several amendments.

The Finance Committee has approved one of those amendments 15-5, Sen. Max Baucus', D-Mont., proposal to take $29 billion in new taxes from oil companies and apply the money towards renewable energy. More specifically, the oil tax money would pay for energy conservation, wind turbines, electric hybrid cars and clean coal technology.

The tax package is twice as large as what Democrats had been discussing, but appears to stand a solid chance of passing. An earlier amendment that would give the Justice Department authority to sue OPEC over oil price gouging - which New Mexico Democrat Sen. Jeff Bingman criticized as "a feel good amendment" - passed 70-23.

Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., says the of the latest amendment, "You can't raise taxes ... by $29 billion and not expect gas prices to increase."

The Bush administration has already threatened the bill with a veto, ostensibly because of the possibility of it resulting in higher prices at the pump.

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