Bingaman Reaction to GOP Energy Bill

April 30, 2003
12:00 AM
Senate Energy Committee today reported the GOP energy bill out of committee, 13-10. The legislation may come before the full Senate as early next week. Here is Ranking Member Jeff Bingaman's statement against reporting the bill: "While there are a number of positive aspects to this bill, overall it lacks the balance needed to be a really effective energy policy for our country, so I will oppose the motion to report the bill to the full Senate. Some of my concerns include the following: -- The bill does not adequately protect electricity consumers across the country against market manipulation. It waters down the public interest standard that has governed electricity mergers regulation for the last 65 years. -- In the name of dealing with concerns over the Standard Market Design proposal, the bill cripples the FERC's ability to respond to electricity crises that may arise over the next 2 years. -- The bill does nothing to address our growing demand for imported oil in transportation. In fact, its provisions will actually increase our gasoline demand problems over current law by 10 billion gallons by 2020. -- The bill creates a new special interest provisions for one group of parties in hydroelectric relicensing proceedings. -- The bill creates a new loophole for Indian energy projects that both cuts out the public and environmental analysis on specific projects, while at the same time watering down the traditional trust responsibility of the Federal government to Indian tribes. -- The bill does little or nothing to address climate change - a topic of key importance to our side was shunted aside in this mark-up, despite the fact that many aspects of climate change are in our Committee's jurisdiction. -- The bill does very little to increase renewables in our energy system. There is no renewable portfolio standard and no renewable fuel standard in the bill. "I appreciate the cooperation from the Majority in clearing amendments on a number of topics in this bill that were important to our side. But the fact remains that on all the above issues, our attempts to seek changes in the bill were turned back on largely party-line votes by the Majority. "A vote to report is a vote on the overall balance and scope of the bill. As it stands, the bill does not do enough, or goes in the wrong direction, on too many key energy issues. While I hope that some of these issues can be better resolved on the floor, I cannot support this energy bill."