Democratic News

Sep 03 2002

Energy Conference: Update #9 (Post-Recess Edition)

A message to reporters from the Communications Director.

Here's an update on where we are in the energy conference, and where we might be headed: Pipeline Safety: Between July 29 and Aug. 30, staff met numerous times to resolve differences between the pipeline title in the Senate-passed energy bill and the pipeline safety bill passed by the House. Staff-level agreements have been reached on about 80 percent of the issues. Minor clarifications are still being worked out. Energy Efficiency/Renewable Energy: The Conferees adopted staff agreements on most (but not all) of the efficiency provisions and some renewable provisions when they last met, on July 25. About a dozen, though, didn't quite make it. During recess, House and Senate staff met to resolve these remaining issues. Rural and Remote Energy: Staff met 3-4 times in August on the energy grant/community development subtitle. More work is needed. Alaska Gasline: In recess discussions, minor changes were proposed. Explanatory report language to clarify some of the issues is being considered. The loan guarantee provision was set aside pending resolution of the tax issue. Electricity/RPS: Probably the least rewarding part of our working recess. Little got done. Hopefully, having the Members back in town will create new momentum with this key part of the bill. Research & Development: A great deal of work has gone into this title. About 80 pages of text have been worked out. Much of the brush has been cleared, and staff is down to a finite list of issues that remain to be resolved. Clean Coal: Staff participated in 2-3 meetings on this topic. Slow but measurable progress noted. Nuclear Issues: Advancements made on the various nuclear issues which had not been adopted at the July 25 Conferee meeting. Price-Anderson likely will be elevated to the Member level for resolution. Fuels and Vehicles (non-CAFE and non-ethanol): Partial progress been made on these provisions. Key issues include amending EPACT, biodiesel, use of alt fuels in duel-fueled vehicles, some studies, HOV exceptions, clean school buses, alt-fuel demo program, truck idling and railroad efficiency. There will be a major attempt this week to bring these discussions to closure -- something that hopefully will be aided by having Members back in town to vet staff agreements. Also, we will have some new Tier II discussion on topics where we could not get staff together during August, mainly on non-ANWR oil and gas issues. The Tier I issues remain to be reconciled. These include ANWR, CAFE, electricity/RPS, climate change, ethanol and taxes. We're going to give it all we've got to get to an energy bill, and we expect to get there. Date of the next Conferee meeting will be announced soon. * Bill Wicker, Communications Director