Democratic News

Jun 27 2002

Energy Conference Update #6 (First Meeting)

A message to reporters from the Communications Director

Today we made it through the first day of the energy conference. Both Chairman Tauzin and Senator Bingaman appeared pleased with this initial meeting, expressing optimism about chances of developing a conference report that will pass both Houses and go to the President's desk (but also acknowledging that a lot of hard work lies ahead). Today's meeting was mostly opening statements, but a path forward for the conference also was laid out. There are lots of Big Issues ... lots for staff to work on ... and lots for Members to deal with. Mr. Tauzin categorized these as Tier I and Tier II issues. The tough stuff -- areas where the two bills have important differences -- reside in Tier I. These include ANWR, climate change, CAFE, electricity, ethanol, oil and gas production, pipeline safety, RPS and taxes and will be dealt with later. Less contentious, more consensual Tier II issues will be reconciled first: LIHEAP, Price-Anderson and Indian Energy; then, efficiency (except CAFE), clean coal, R&D and the remaining nuclear issues. Then, electricity. House and Senate staff already are working on these Tier II assignments and will continue to work them over recess; meetings (including two tomorrow) are being organized in all eight topical areas. Conferees are expected to reconvene in July to start adopting joint staff recommendations. * Bill Wicker, Communications Director