House Energy Weak

June 4, 2004
10:40 AM
The much-advertised "House Energy Week" will likely have a lot to do with election-year politics and little to do with fixing our nation’s energy problems. That’s a shame. America’s energy problems are real, and serious. Most of what can be done to face our immediate challenges (high oil and gasoline prices) does not require legislation – the President can act based on his current authority. To date, though, the President has missed numerous opportunities to take action when it could have made a difference. We’re disappointed to hear that House Energy Week seems to be focused on passing the failed energy conference report as a new bill. The Energy Information Administration, quoted in today’s Washington Post (pg. A9), has concluded that the "changes to production, consumption, imports and prices [would be] negligible" if the energy conference report became law. We haven’t had time to analyze the other bills the House may consider next week. But if there is one bill the House should pass next week, it’s the Senate-approved JOBS Act, legislation that includes tax incentives to boost domestic energy production and conservation. The Administration’s record of passivity in the face of major energy problems – soaring gasoline prices, market manipulation by Enron, a massive blackout – is nothing for House Republicans to spend a whole week crowing about. And the flawed energy bills the House has produced in the past have not advanced because of bipartisan opposition in the Senate. (Good energy bills, though, have passed in the Senate twice in the last three years, with strong bipartisan support, on 88-11 and 84-14 votes.) Sen. Bingaman believes Congress should take a more productive approach and move forward on the items that are most needed in energy policy and most realistic in terms of passing both Houses. A good place to begin would be for the Senate’s GOP leadership to stop blocking Sen. Cantwell’s non-controversial bill to give Americans a more dependable electricity system by improving the reliability of our nation’s power grid.

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