Energy Conference Update #8 (Can You Hear Me Now?)

September 29, 2003
12:00 AM
Last week, Republican staff who are secretly negotiating the energy bill admitted that a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) would not be included in the conference report. If these staffers have even the slightest respect for defending the will of the U.S. Senate in conference, they might be rethinking that position after the tri-partisan letter their bosses received today. Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D), Susan Collins (R) and Jim Jeffords (I) and 50 other senators are urging Chairman Domenici and Chairman Tauzin to include an RPS in the energy bill conference report. From the 53 signatures on this letter, and from votes on the Senate floor in the last Congress, it is clear that a majority of the Senate believes that forward-looking energy legislation must include a common sense, bipartisan RPS provision. In the 107th Congress, the Senate included an RPS that would require 10 percent of electricity to be generated from renewable sources by 2020. Repeated attempts on the Senate floor to strike or weaken that provision failed by votes ranging from 56 to 58. So, an RPS was included in the bill the Senate passed by a commanding 88-11 vote. Before the Senate scuttled the GOP energy bill in favor of the Bingaman bill this past July, Sen. Domenici had proposed an electricity title that did not contain an RPS. A group of senators, led by Bingaman, Collins and Jeffords, intended to offer an RPS floor amendment very similar to the one that passed last year. That amendment, had there been a chance to vote it, would had passed. Fast-forward to today: 53 U.S. senators have made it plain to the Republican managers of the energy conference that a strong renewable portfolio standard is an essential component of any comprehensive national energy policy – not just an important part, but an essential part. We could go on, but I think you get it. Let’s hope that Chairmen Domenici and Tauzin will get it, too. # # #