Wednesday, September 17, 2008

House Passes Energy Bill (H.R. 6899); Republicans Outraged

Sep 16: The House passed the Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act (H.R. 6899) by a vote of 236-189 (9 not voting, 8 Republicans & 1 Democrat), at about 10 PM (September 16) [See WIMS 9/16/08]. Republicans voting for the Democratic bill included Representatives Buchanan, Castle, Gilchrest, LoBiondo, LaHood, Knollenberg, Kirk, Jones (NC), Inglis (SC), Hayes, Porter, Ramstad, Reichert, Shays, and Smith (NJ). Democrats voting against the measure included Representatives Barrow, Capps, Cazayoux, Farr, Filner, Pallone, Marshall, Holt, Payne, Rothman, Taylor, Thompson (CA), and Woolsey.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, "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."

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) issued a release on September 17, saying, "House Democrats say they want to 'stimulate' the economy, but last night nearly every single one of them voted against the bipartisan energy bill authored by Representatives John Peterson (R-PA) and Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) to lower gas prices on behalf of working families and small businesses -- including 24 Democrats who are cosponsors of the Peterson-Abercrombie bill. That’s correct, 24 Democrats flip-flopped, repudiated their past statements of support and cosponsorship for the bipartisan Peterson-Abercrombie bill by voting against it [i.e. voting for H.R. 6899]. And by rejecting the Peterson-Abercrombie bipartisan plan, Democrats proved once and for all that yesterday’s debate was about nothing more than providing political cover for vulnerable Democrats on the eve of an election -- and not about passing 'all of the above' energy reforms to make a real difference in lowering gas prices."

Boehner's release continues, "House Democratic leaders denied Republicans the opportunity to have a full debate and honest vote on the American Energy Act [See WIMS 8/13/08, (H.R. 6566)], the Republican bill that does 'all of the above' to help working families and small businesses struggling with record fuel costs. This fight is not over. House Republicans will continue to fight for an honest debate and vote on the American Energy Act -- legislation that increases American energy production off our coasts, in the Inter-Mountain West, and on Alaska’s remote North Slope to help lower gas prices, encourages more efficiency and conservation, and accelerates the development of more alternative and renewable fuels through additional funding from increased drilling royalties. This is the bill the American people support and expect. How much longer will Speaker Pelosi block it?"

In an earlier release on September 16, Boehner said, "Written behind closed doors, with their special interest allies who are on the record in support of higher gas prices, and finally released to the public in the dark of night, the Democrats’ latest ‘no energy’ bill once again defies the will of the American people who support a comprehensive approach to lower gas prices. This Democratic bill permanently locks away some 88 percent of the best American oil resources on the Outer Continental Shelf. It blocks valuable and job-creating energy production on Alaska’s North Slope and Inter-Mountain West. And it stops efforts to produce more and cheaper energy through emissions-free nuclear and coal-to-liquids technologies. Rather than an ‘all of the above’ approach, this bill is very nearly ‘none of the above.’ The American people have been waiting for months for this Democratic Congress to give them a meaningful, honest vote on more American energy production, but instead, Speaker Pelosi has served-up a legislative hoax and a debate rigged to once again defy their will.”

The American Petroleum Institute (API) issued a release saying, "The House energy bill is a dry hole for American consumers. The bill does little to increase U.S. oil and natural gas supplies and, in fact, may well result in less domestic production, which would make America more dependent on foreign energy. The plan guarantees $18 billion in new taxes on the industry, which would discourage new energy production. At the same time, it offers the illusion of increased offshore access but with no guarantee that energy would ever be produced in new areas on the Outer Continental Shelf. The bill all but guarantees that states will not agree to allow drilling off their coasts since the legislation does not permit states to share revenue derived from lease bids and production royalties. The arbitrary 50-mile buffer puts offlimits some of the most potentially promising areas for oil and natural gas production. In fact, under this bill, 15 billion barrels, or more than 80 percent of the OCS oil resources under current moratoria, would remain off-limits."

The Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) issued a release saying, "IPAA commends Congress for its bipartisan recognition that expanded offshore development in the United States is essential to America’s energy future. This is a good first step that will yield benefits to the American people. However, the sum of the provisions outlined in H.R. 6899 would hamper our continued efforts to increase the supply of American energy resources to help secure the future of America’s economy and our national security. We believe that all of America’s oil and natural gas resources can be developed in an environmentally safe manner. For far too long, America’s offshore development has been unnecessarily prohibited. Finally, Congress appears to be ready to address this key issue. While IPAA commends the Congress for recognizing the importance of developing America’s offshore resources, H.R. 6899 falls short of an effective program and presents new, inappropriate burdens."

Sierra Club issued a release saying, "Today, House Republicans were given a chance to vote on a true "all-of-the-above" energy package that includes both clean energy and expanded offshore drilling. But despite significant offshore drilling provisions in the bill, an overwhelming number of House Republicans attempted to reject the bill and force a substitute to the House Leadership’s energy package, complaining that it did not go far enough to help oil companies -- fortunately they failed. . . Congress should take this opportunity to help pull us out of our energy crisis by creating a true, comprehensive, 'all of the above' energy compromise. While far from ideal, the energy package offered by Democratic leadership in the House at least included significant investment in clean energy through a Renewable Energy Standard, improved public transit and green building measures, and an extension of clean energy tax credits. Congress should protect consumers through a crackdown on oil speculation and drilling royalty loopholes, and offers low-income energy assistance. Of course the House package also included compromise provisions for expanded offshore drilling but a package of clean energy measures would help solve our energy crisis and protect consumers--a stark contrast to a drill-only policy, which will do nothing but endanger our coasts and add to Big Oil's profits. "

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said, "The House energy bill falls short of what Americans really need to meet our energy challenges. Big Oil is playing off the fears Americans faced with rising gas prices and is distorting the facts. Unfortunately, the politics of Big Oil and its allies have resulted in bad policies that will not provide real solutions. We want Congress to make sure that Big Oil doesn’t continue to load us up with dirty energy that overshadows the clean, renewable, homegrown solutions Americans need.”

Audubon issued a release saying, "We are deeply disappointed with the House energy bill due for a vote today. Instead of adopting forward-looking policies that will address our long-term energy needs, Congress is intent on playing politics. . . This bill does too little to bring about America's clean energy future. When the political season is over we will urge Congress to quickly adopt measures we know will help permanently end our dependence on fossil fuels, reduce global warming pollution, and create thousands of clean energy jobs to restore America's position as an energy leader."

National Wildlife Federation (NWF) said, “While the House bill takes positive steps on renewable energy and energy efficient buildings, those provisions are outweighed by a last-minute change lifting a longstanding prohibition on commercial oil shale leasing. Much of the public attention around Congressional energy bills has been focused on offshore oil leasing provisions, but oil shale is an unconscionable environmental threat. “Oil shale is a disaster not only for America's western wilderness and water supply but for our climate. . . America is on the verge of an explosion of clean energy jobs. It’s time for Congress to light the fuse.”

Access details of the roll call vote (
click here). Access a release from Speaker Pelosi with a video of floor remarks (click here). Access a release from Minority Leader Boehner (click here). Access a previous release from Boehner (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 6899 (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 6566 (click here). Access a release from API (click here). Access a release from IPAA (click here). Access a release from Sierra Club (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). Access a release from Audubon (click here). Access a release from NWF (click here). [*Energy]