Tuesday, September 16, 2008

House Debates Democrats' Energy Bill (H.R. 6899)

Sep 16: The U.S. House began heated debate on the Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act (H.R.6899), sponsored by Representative Nick Rahall (D-WV) with cosponsors John Dingell (D-MI), George Miller (D-CA) and Gene Green (D-TX). The bill, according to its description is: To advance the national security interests of the United States by reducing its dependency on oil through renewable and clean, alternative fuel technologies while building a bridge to the future through expanded access to Federal oil and natural gas resources, revising the relationship between the oil and gas industry and the consumers who own those resources and deserve a fair return from the development of publicly owned oil and gas, ending tax subsidies for large oil and gas companies, and facilitating energy efficiencies in the building, housing, and transportation sectors, and for other purposes.

Much of the early debate was on a point of order over a provision that would provide $1.2 billion non-energy related benefit solely to New York City. Republicans argued that the provision was clearly an "earmark" benefiting only on location. Republicans also complained that the bill was not available until late last evening and has not been reviewed by any House Committee. Republicans said "no body expects this bill to become law." Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said "enough is enough. . . We have no opportunity to bring forth our alternative American Energy Act. . . " He said the Democrats' bill is "nothing but a hoax on the American people."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued a release entitled, "America - It's Time For An Oil Change." Pelosi said, "Today, the House will consider the Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act, H.R. 6899. The legislation is a bold step forward, helping end our dependence on foreign oil and increase our national security. It launches a clean renewable energy future that creates new American jobs, expands domestic energy supply--including new offshore drilling, and invents and builds more efficient vehicles, buildings, homes, and infrastructure. It will lower costs to consumers and protect the interests of taxpayers. It is a comprehensive strategy, and the product of bipartisan compromise. It offers Republicans who want a comprehensive approach the choice to make sure Big Oil pays its fair share."

According to Pelosi's release and explanation of the bill it would provide for: Royalty Reform: Making Oil Companies Pay Their Fair Share for Drilling on Public Lands; Repeal of Tax Subsidies for the Big 5; Releasing Oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve; Mineral Management Service Ethics Reform; Investing in Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency and Home Heating Assistance (LIHEAP), Paid for by Making Oil Companies Pay their Fair Share for Drilling on Public Lands (98/99 leases); Electricity from Clean Renewable Sources; Renewable Biomass; Responsible Compromise on Drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf; Require Oil Companies to Drill on the 68 Million Acres of Federal Lands They Already Control; Increase Domestic Oil Production in Alaska; Promote Natural Gas, E-85 Infrastructure; Carbon Capture & Sequestration; Oil Shale Development With State Approval; Strengthen Energy Efficiency in Buildings to Bring Down Costs; Incentives for Energy Efficient Homes; and Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act.

Access legislative details for H.R. 6899, including a link to the text of the legislation (
click here). Access the House Floor votes as they occur (click here). Access a lengthy release from Speaker Pelosi including further explanation of the above highlights and a graphic to explain the offshore drilling provision (click here). [*Energy]