Thursday, December 13, 2007

Senate Republicans Reject Dems Energy Bill Compromise

Dec 13: On December 12, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced a revised energy bill and indicated the Senate would vote on the revised bill on Thursday, December 13. He said the substitute bill addresses Republicans’ concerns "by reluctantly eliminating the Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) and modifying the energy tax provisions." The measure was an attempt to compromise on differences expressed following the Senate vote that halted consideration of the House-passed energy bill on December 7 [See WIMS 12/7/07].

Senator Reid said, “Democrats remain committed to passing a bill that lowers gas prices, helps break our addiction to oil, begins to reverse global warming and creates jobs by investing in renewable energy. We are ready to take a first step toward a clean energy revolution in America that ripples throughout the world, and I hope Senators will find the common ground to take that step. Republicans oppose a national standard for utilities to supply clean, renewable electricity that would reduce the cost of our natural gas and electricity bills by as much as $18 billion and create many new jobs.

"We are reluctantly removing that provision, as well as making several changes to the energy tax provisions, in the genuine pursuit of progress. This is an opportunity for Republicans to stand with Americans who are paying more than ever at the pump, instead of with the big oil companies who are raking in record profits. I hope that Republicans will recognize the importance of this legislation to their states and the country, and I am hopeful that we will reach the 60 votes necessary to send this bill to the House and the President before the end of the year.”

On December 13, the Senate voted and the compromise measure failed obtain the 60 votes required in a cloture vote by one vote -- 59-40. Just prior to the defeating vote, Senator Reid again made a plea for support of the compromise and said, "The White House has objected to our provisions requiring the major oil and gas companies to part with $10 billion or $15 billion of the tax breaks that they are scheduled to receive over the next 10 years. But let’s be clear. Our bill eliminates those tax breaks for Big Oil – an industry raking in record profits of half a trillion dollars in the last six years -- so that we can invest more in clean energy. Plus, the tax title will provide money for the Secure Rural Schools program as well as at least one year full funding for the Payments in Lieu of Taxes program. As many of my colleagues in the West know, these are important programs for rural counties that have excessive Federal land ownership.

“Democrats and Republicans alike should agree that even without the Renewable Electricity Standard we have an energy bill that will reduce energy costs, begin to break our addiction to oil, and reverse the threat of global warming. This is still an important and historic bill, and I am happy to support it. I ask that all of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle hear the call of the American people for lower energy costs, less oil consumption and a cleaner environment -- and send this historic energy bill to the President’s desk. This could be the first step toward an energy revolution that starts in America that ripples throughout the world. I hope Senators will find the common ground to take that first step.”

U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, issued a statement on the Senate’s defeating vote and said that it would "save the energy bill from a likely veto by President Bush." Senator Domenici said, “Today’s vote was very close, but the outcome will likely save the energy bill for this year. By rejecting the nearly $22 billion in tax increases added to this bill, the Senate will instead go back to work on a package that contains the right priorities and can be signed into law. I have said all along that an energy bill which included stronger CAFE (fuel economy) standards, a Renewable Fuels Standard, and improvements to our energy efficiency could pass Congress and be signed into law. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to finish our work on the energy bill soon.”

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) issued a statement saying, “Forty senators today blocked energy bill measures that would have closed a $13 billion tax loophole for the oil industry and invested that money in renewable energy. Forty senators lined up behind big oil companies, instead of American families. Oil companies have contributed $8 million to senators over the past four years.”

Access the two statements from Senator Reid (
click here); and (click here). Access the statement from Senator Domenici (click here). Access a link to the roll call vote (click here). Access the NWF statement (click here). [*Energy, *Climate]