Friday, June 29, 2007

Pelosi Declares Energy Independence Day

Jun 28: It appears that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was attempting to make good on her previous commitment to have comprehensive energy legislation ready by the Fourth of July; when she gave her Energy Independence Day speech at a press conference on June 28. However, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-MI), had already indicated that some of the difficult issues such as motor vehicle fuel economy, coal-to-liquids, and a renewable portfolio standard have all been left out and will be addressed in the fall in the context of comprehensive climate change legislation.

Despite the lack of a complete package, the Speaker was joined by other Democratic Leaders and Committee Chairs to announce the “Energy Independence Day” legislation. Pelosi said, Today, in the tradition of our Founding Fathers and in the interest of our children and our grandchildren, we begin a new American revolution. With confidence in American ingenuity and high faith in our future, we Democrats declare America’s independence from foreign oil. For their extraordinary efforts I thank our chairs, Chairman Dingell, Chairman Obey, Chairman Rangel, Chairman Miller, Chairman Oberstar, Chairman Waxman, Chairman Rahall, Chairman Lantos, Chairman Gordon, Chairman Peterson, and Chairwoman Velazquez.

“At the beginning of this Congress, I asked our distinguished chairs to bring to the House of Representatives legislation that addressed the issues of energy independence and reversing global warming, and to do so in a way that promoted innovation, to create small businesses in our country, and to do so in a way that was fiscally sound. On the 11 committees of jurisdiction that relates to energy independence and global warming, almost every Member of Congress serves. So almost every Member of Congress, Democrat and Republican alike, has had an opportunity to weigh in on the legislation that I am announcing today. As promised, as part of our open process that allowed Republicans and Democrats to weigh in on the House committees, the committee chairs crafted a New Direction energy independence initiative."

Dingell discussed the Committee markups for six sections of an energy bill. While indicating that many difficult issues were being delayed until fall, Dingell announced on June 27 that "We should set ambitious goals and targets..." and he called for reductions in "U.S. greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions of between 60, and perhaps as much as 80, percent by 2050." [
See WIMS 6/27/07]. The sections (Committee Prints #1-#6) were just finally approved by the Committee at meetings on June 27 and 28. On the Energy and Commerce website the various prints, and the amendments considered for each are available. In summary form the prints deal with the following subjects and were approves as follows: Committee Print #1: Title I: Energy Efficiency, approved by a vote of 27-18; Committee Print #2: Smart Grid, approved by voice vote; Committee Print #3: Amount of Loans Guaranteed, approved by voice vote; Committee Print #4: Renewable Fuels Infrastructure, approved by vote of 33-21; Committee Print #5: Advanced Battery and Plug-in Hybrid Programs, approved by voice vote; and Committee Print #6: Energy Information Enhancement, approved by voice vote.

While the Speaker was touting energy independence, another group of 47 fiscally conservative House Democratic legislators known as the "Blue Dog Coalition," unveiled an endorsed set of principles to guide Congress as it works to rewrite the nation’s energy policy. The “Blue Dog Energy Principles” were endorsed by the Coalition as a moderate and comprehensive approach to our nation’s energy policy that emphasizes a focus on national and economic security. The principles represent a broad range of stakeholders, with the underlying belief that our country’s current reliance on foreign energy supplies threatens our national security and our ability to compete in the global marketplace.

The Blue Dog Energy Task Force Co-Chairs Jim Matheson (D-UT) and Charlie Melancon (D-LA) led the effort that produced the Blue Dog Coalition Energy Principles -- eight planks dealing with topics such as domestic energy production, climate change, fuel diversity and technology development. Both are members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. On climate change, for example, the Blue Dogs say, "the U.S. should address climate change by developing predictable long term policies that do not disproportionately affect one industry or sector."

The Blue Dog principles struck a cord with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President John Engler who commented that, "Forward-thinking principles like the Coalition’s will go a long way toward crafting a functional domestic energy infrastructure. Supporting these principles is the right course of action for our country, and will help lead the nation toward lower energy costs and a more secure energy future.” Engler said the Principles were a “break from the usual rhetoric,” and said they were "highly consistent with the NAM’s own energy and economic security plan, support domestic energy production, diversity, and technology development."

Access a release from the Speaker (
click here). Access the Committee Prints #1, #2, & #3 and the various amendments considered (click here). Access the Committee Prints #4, #5, & #6 and the various amendments considered (click here). Access a release from the Blue Dog Coalition (click here). Access the Blue Dog Energy Principles (click here). Access the Blue Dog Coalition website for a list of members and additional information (click here). Access a release from NAM (click here). Access various media reports on the House energy bill efforts (click here).[*Energy, *Climate]