Monday, June 06, 2011

House Hearing: "A Roadmap for America's Energy Future" (H.R.909)

Jun 3: The House Energy & Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Energy and Power, Chaired by Representative Ed Whitfield (R-KY), held the ninth day of its hearing on the House Republican "American Energy Initiative." Witnesses providing testimony included: U.S. Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA); David Sandalow, Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs, U.S. Department of Energy; Thomas Hicks, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy); and representatives from Hudson Clean Energy; The Heritage Foundation; and RAND Corporation.
    Chairman Whitfield said the hearing was to discuss "a comprehensive plan to break this logjam and enhance both the amount and the variety of domestic energy production." The legislation H.R.909 is called "A Roadmap for America's Energy Future." H.R.909 was formally introduced on May 31 and is sponsored by Rep. Nunes. Chairman Whitfield said, "The problem is not that the domestic conventional energy isn't there or that it is running out, it is that too much of it has been locked away. The Roadmap expands and streamlines the process of energy production in the federally-controlled Outer Continental Shelf. It also opens up Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, America's single most promising onshore site where an estimated 10 billion barrels lies beneath several thousand acres at the edge of this nearly 20 million acre refuge.
    "The Roadmap also seeks to encourage the use of our vast reserves of coal to make transportation fuels. It does this by facilitating the construction of the nation's first coal-to-liquids plant. It also removes the regulatory impediments to the development of oil shale on federal lands in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. In addition, the bill eliminates one key regulatory roadblock to these non-conventional sources of petroleum as well as imports of oil sands from Canada - section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. . ."
    Full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said, "The problem is not a short supply of energy, but a short supply of fresh thinking on energy policy. . . It should go without saying that we ought to be making full use of the affordable energy we have right here in America. Not only does American-made energy provide greater supplies and lower prices, it also creates thousands of well-paying jobs and keeps more dollars right here in the U.S. This is not the time to put the brakes on our domestic resources or pick energy winners and losers based on political ideology. We need it all. Energy drives our economy and has a direct impact on jobs. . ."
    Rep. Nunes testified that, "H.R. 909, would "immediately lower energy prices, and finally deliver on all of the unfulfilled promises of recent decades. . . The Energy Roadmap would first lift restrictions on the development and extraction of resources in ANWR and the OCS. Removing these restrictions could produce up to 1 million barrels of oil per day from ANWR and leasing all federal waters in the lower 48 would provide another 900,000 barrels per day of oil and 1.073 trillion cubic feet of gas per year. This would create from 1.45 million to nearly 2 million jobs. Likewise, removing restrictions on the development of our oil shale resources could eventually result in the production of 10 million barrels of oil per day and create 100,000 new jobs."
    He said the bill, "recognizes that dependence on any one fuel source is dangerous and short-sighted. . . Accordingly, the Energy Roadmap would provide the financial resources and structure necessary to transition our economy to renewable and advanced energy alternatives. It would do this by depositing the new federal lease and royalty revenues – estimated to be $500 billion over the next 30 years – into a renewable energy trust fund. . ."
    Full Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) countered the Republican statements saying, "Today we are holding a hearing on a bill that is titled "A Roadmap for America's Energy Future." Our nation faces major energy challenges and we need to have a serious conversation about America's energy future. But the legislation we examine today proposes no innovative solutions to our nation's energy needs; it doubles down on old, ineffective policies. We've seen this roadmap before. This is a recycled version of the plan developed by the secretive Bush-Cheney Energy Task Force and pushed through Congress by Republicans while they were in office.

    "The Bush Administration and congressional Republicans spent eight years following this roadmap. They pushed oil and gas drilling, onshore and offshore. They expedited permits and weakened environmental protections. They opposed efforts to increase fuel economy. They called for nuclear fuel reprocessing. They tried to greenwash proposals for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by implying congressional appropriators could use royalty revenues to support renewable energy. They pushed the dirtiest alternative and unconventional fuels – coal-to-liquids, oil shale, and tar sands. And where did this roadmap lead us? Energy prices soared and carbon pollution increased. And we became even more dependent on foreign oil. . .

    But H.R. 909 would abandon our clean energy future to China. For many reasons, it is unlikely to help renewable energy, including because of flaws in its reverse auction mechanism. The bill does nothing on efficiency, which is the cheapest and most reliable new source of supply. It promotes the form of nuclear energy that risks putting nuclear bomb grade material into the hands of terrorists. It does nothing to develop carbon capture and storage – the technology that coal needs to remain competitive in a carbon-constrained world. . ."
    Access the Republican hearing website for links to all testimony, opening statements and background (click here). Access the Democratic hearing website for links to all testimony, opening statements and a video to be posted soon (click here). Access legislative details for H.R.909 (click here). Access a release from Rep. Nunes which includes a section-by-section summary and link to a video of some of the hearing testimony (click here[*Energy]