Thursday, September 11, 2008

Senate-Wide Energy Summit & Upcoming Vote

Sep 11: As the House prepares for an energy vote showdown between Republicans and Democrats [See WIMS 9/10/08], the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), will host an all-day summit (Friday, September 12) to facilitate the development of comprehensive legislation to address America’s many energy challenges. The "Senate-wide meeting," from 9:30 AM until 3:30 PM, will feature two panels of witnesses that include energy analysts, academics and corporate leaders, all of whom will offer recommendations on how our country can achieve a more secure, reliable, sustainable and affordable energy future. All 100 Senators will be invited to participate. The discussion, in Dirksen G50, also is open to the public and the press. [Note: The House has now decided to put off the energy vote until next week, as many members are leaving to deal with Hurricane Ike].

Senator Bingaman said, “This critical discussion will provide a broad spectrum of views on how to tackle the difficult energy challenges confronting our nation, including economic security, national security, global warming and ending our addiction to oil. It will be an excellent opportunity for Senators to listen, learn and contribute firsthand to this important and timely conversation.”

Committee Ranking Member, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) said, “I’m pleased to join Senator Bingaman in welcoming our fellow Senators as well as experts from the private sector to provide their views on how best to address our many energy challenges. We have assembled a diverse panel that will bring many different perspectives to this debate. I look forward to a free-wheeling discussion that will bring about greater understanding of the issues confronting us and the best ways to address them.”

In advance of the meeting, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a statement saying, “We will continue our efforts to pass comprehensive legislation to address our energy challenges. I am encouraged by the work of what started as the Gang of 10 [See WIMS 8/1/08], and has now expanded to the Gang of 16, and perhaps a gang of many more by the time this process has concluded. Next week, following Friday’s energy summit, we expect to vote on several comprehensive energy bills. . ." Senator Reid listed the: (1) The Bingaman-Baucus amendment, which opens up new areas of the Outer Continental shelf to drilling, including parts of the eastern Gulf of Mexico; (2) The Gang of 16 bill, which, similar to the Bingaman/Baucus amendment, opens up the eastern Gulf of Mexico to drilling, as well as other areas off the coasts of the Southeastern states at those states request; and, (3) Reid said, "we are open to a vote on the Republican amendment -- S.amdt 5108 -- that Senator McConnell filed to the speculation bill. This amendment opens up all coastal areas to drilling at the states’ requests, except for the eastern Gulf of Mexico, which stays closed until 2022. It also closes the London loophole and requires index trader and swaps dealers to report their energy-commodity transactions."

Reid concluded his discussion of the energy issue saying, "It should be clear to all that we are offering Republicans multiple opportunities to vote for increased drilling, which they have chosen to make their marquee legislative priority and campaign issue. We offered votes on drilling before the August recess, and Republicans rejected our offers. This time, I hope Republicans will put their votes where their mouths are to pass comprehensive legislation that includes drilling."

In the meantime, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced further details on the Democrats energy bill which will be voted on next week. The bill reportedly includes major new concessions on offshore oil drilling (See link below). Reportedly, the bill would give states control over drilling between 50 and 100 miles offshore and open lift the Federal ban on areas more than 100 miles from the coast for oil exploration.

Access a release from Senator Bingaman listing the Panel members for the Energy Summit (
click here). Access the statement from Senator Reid (click here). Access a transcript of a lengthy interview with Majority Leader Hoyer on the House energy bill (click here). Access a Reuters report on the House energy bill (click here). [*Energy]