Energy Bill 2004: Reality Check

March 3, 2004
09:48 AM
A marquee event in Senate Energy this week is tomorrow’s hearing on the Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2004. The session will spotlight EIA’s forecasts re: oil and natural gas supply, demand, and prices through 2025. Guy Caruso, head of EIA, will be the star witness. EIA’s policy-neutral reports have enlightened energy lawmakers for years; the Senate Energy Committee, in particular, has benefited from the statistical and analytical work done by this agency’s independent experts. However, with S.2095 stalled in the Senate, don’t be surprised if someone tomorrow offers a view that speedy passage of this bill will greatly enhance domestic oil and gas production, reducing America’s reliance on imported oil and gas. If you hear that, remember this: 1. Such a claim would contradict another EIA report released just three weeks ago. That assessment, requested by Sen. John Sununu (R-NH), analyzed energy production, consumption, price and import impacts of select tax provisions in the failed energy conference report – S.2095’s next of kin. EIA found that “the total impact on primary energy consumption is small.” The maximum annual difference, EIA said, is “no more than 0.3 percent.” (BTW, since EIA’s work is the focal point for tomorrow’s hearing, we draw your attention to yet another EIA study. That report and its addendum concluded that a nationwide 10% Renewable Portfolio Standard for electricity would both reduce demand for natural gas and lower natural gas prices.) 2. Such a claim also would disagree with what Interior Secretary Gale Norton has told reporters. In an interview published Feb. 23 in Greenwire, Secretary Norton noted that the Interior Department is relying on regulatory changes and monetary incentives to boost domestic energy production. “There are a number of areas where for us the energy bill is helpful,” Norton said. However, “it’s not as dramatic as in the electricity restructuring or some other areas.…For us, the primary issue has been ANWR.”

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