Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Senator Bingaman To Lead September Energy Summit

Aug 4: Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) has agreed to help lead an energy summit next month when the Senate returns to session. Senate Democrats and Republicans have been in deadlock stalemate in considering energy legislation for most of the summer. In an effort to find areas of agreement between both parties, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) last week asked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to join him in sponsoring the summit. The summit was requested by the "Gang of 10," lead by Senators Kent Conrad (D-ND); Saxby Chambliss (R-GA); that proposed their "sweeping energy proposal" -- the comprehensive New Energy Reform Act of 2008 -- just prior to the Senate 5-week recess [See WIMS 8/1/08].

Bingaman commented about the lack of progress on energy issues saying, “The high price of gas and diesel at the pump is a major burden on American families and on the American economy. While all of us would like to find a single solution to the problem, the truth is that we must take action in three areas to achieve any lasting result. We must ensure the proper functioning of markets for oil and gas so that prices are not artificially high because of excessive speculation. We must find ways to increase the supply of oil and gas, but also other types of energy.

“And we must reduce the demand for fuel. I hope we can enact responsible legislation in each of these areas in the near future. Majority Leader Harry Reid has tried to schedule votes on proposed solutions to high energy prices during the past few weeks, but he has been blocked from doing so. I hope that all senators will participate in the energy summit next month so that we can find a way to move forward in a bipartisan manner.”

On August 1, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy Committee, and a key player in any Senate energy proposal, issued a statement saying,"After nine days of debate and seven different attempts to change the subject, the Democratic Majority in the Senate finally has come up with a way to deal with high gasoline prices: leave town. While this strategy may suit the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, who opposes offshore drilling and most likely doesn’t want his colleagues to vote on that subject, it does not suit the American people -- it fails them. When America is facing a problem, it is our job to address it. I’m sad to report today that the Senate has failed to do that because one Senator decided to prevent the other 99 from even considering reasonable proposals to deal with gas prices.

“As we head home for the August recess, I’m sure our constituents will want to know what their Congress has done to bring down prices at the pump. The record will show that Republicans offered broad, comprehensive solutions such as allowing offshore drilling and funding advanced battery research that call on us to find more domestic energy sources while using less energy. It will also show that Democrats blocked us from even voting on them. The Democrats hope that this problem will go away on its own. Republicans want to take action to fix it. I trust that when we return we will get serious about addressing the most important domestic issue in America.”

Access a release from Senator Bingaman (
click here). Access a release from Senator Domenici (click here). [*Energy]