Se­nate en­ergy panel ap­proves bill to drill off­shore

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY ED­WARD FELKER

The Se­nate En­ergy and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Com­mit­tee on June 17 ap­proved an en­ergy bill that would boost re­new­able en­ergy use and ex­pand off­shore oil and gas drilling.

But the mea­sure faces an un­cer­tain fu­ture.

The com­mit­tee, which met 11 times since late March to de­bate amend­ments, voted 15-8 to send the bill to the full Se­nate.

Chair­man Jeff Binga­man, New Mex­ico Demo­crat, called the bill “a solid piece of work” that re­flected bi­par­ti­san view­points. Rank­ing mem­ber Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Repub­li­can, lauded some of the pro-drilling pro­vi­sions in the bill and said the mea­sure will face a num­ber of amend­ments on the Se­nate floor to ex­pand nu­clear power, drilling in the Arc­tic Na­tional Wildlife Refuge, and other sues.

The bill was op­posed by two Democrats. Demo­cratic Sen. Mary L. Lan­drieu of Louisiana, who sought greater off­shore oil and gas royalty shar­ing with coastal states and a greater use of nu­clear power, voted against it, as did Sen. Robert Me­nen­dez of New Jer­sey. He said the bill does not go far enough to pro­mote re­new­able en­ergy and does not pro­tect home­own­ers from ar­bi­trary trans­mis­sion line-sit­ing de­ci­sions by the Fed­eral En­ergy Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion.

Sen. Bernard San­ders, Ver­mont in­de­pen­dent, said he voted for the bill re­luc­tantly be­cause he con­sid­ered the re­new­able en­ergy man­date in the mea­sure to be too weak and he planned to work to in­crease it on the Se­nate floor.

Sen. Evan Bayh, In­di­ana Demo­crat, said he would vote for the bill be­cause it in­cluded a pro-

is- vi­sion that al­lows states to keep penal­ties im­posed when a state does not meet the re­new­able en­ergy man­date.

Four Repub­li­cans voted for the bill: Mrs. Murkowski, Sen. Sam Brown­back of Kansas, Sen. Jeff Ses­sions of Alabama and Sen. Bob Corker of Ten­nessee.

The next step, how­ever, is up to Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid, Ne­vada Demo­crat, who may com­bine the leg­is­la­tion with a pro­posed global warm­ing bill, which has not yet been pro­duced in the Se­nate or by the full House.

The U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce’s In­sti­tute for 21st Cen­tury En­ergy com­mended the com­mit­tee for pro­duc­ing a com­pre­hen­sive en­ergy pol­icy. It said the bill is not per­fect but of­fers the chance to in­crease en­ergy se­cu­rity, cre­ate jobs and im­prove the en­vi­ron­ment.

“This is not a per­fect bill, but over­all this leg­is­la­tion is a pos­i­tive step. It does not in­clude oil and gas rev­enue shar­ing for states, and it con­tains a re­new­able elec­tric­ity man­date that ex­cludes some re­sources, like nu­clear. It also doesn’t rec­og­nize sig­nif­i­cant re­gional dif­fer­ences across our coun­try. We look for­ward to work­ing with the full Se­nate on th­ese and other im­por­tant is­sues in the com­ing months,” said Karen Har­bert, pres­i­dent and CEO of the in­sti­tute, in a state­ment.

The bill’s key pro­vi­sions in­clude:

A man­date im­posed on util­i­ties to gen­er­ate or ac­quire at least 15 per­cent of their en­ergy from re­new­able sources, such as wind, biomass or so­lar sources, by 2021, with up to a 4 per­cent credit for ef­fi­ciency im­prove­ments. En­vi­ron­men­tal groups have said the tar­get, known as a re­new­able en­ergy stan­dard, is too low.

Open­ing the east­ern Gulf of Mex­ico to off­shore oil and gas drilling, in­clud­ing the Destin Dome nat­u­ral gas reser­voir near Pen­sacola, Fla. The pro­vi­sion is ex­pected to face a fil­i­buster threat on the Se­nate floor from Florida Demo­cratic Sen. Bill Nel­son.

New “smart grid” elec­tric­ity trans­mis­sion stan­dards in­tended to move re­new­able en­ergy from re­mote lo­ca­tions to cities, and new fed­eral au­thor­ity to use em­i­nent do­main for new high-volt­age-line sites.

New man­u­fac­tur­ing and build­ing ef­fi­ciency stan­dards.

A new 30-mil­lion-bar­rel gaso­line and diesel fuel re­serve to moderate re­gional short­ages caused by hur­ri­canes that in­ter­rupt re­fin­ery pro­duc­tion.

A new Clean En­ergy De­ploy­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion to fi­nance re­new­able en­ergy tech­nol­ogy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.