Senator Jeff Bingaman’s Opening Statement:
“Thank you very much. Senator Domenici. Let me thank you, and of course, thank the Chairman of the conference. Congressman Barton, for convening the meeting and the approach he is taking to this conference.
As you pointed out, Senator Domenici, we have had a very bipartisan and open and transparent process in the Senate. We have, of course been assured by Congressman Barton that the same process will continue in this conference, which I think is a very good assurance and one that gives me great confidence.
I do think the strong vote in the Senate was to a substantial extent due to the leadership of Senator Domenici and the process he set out and followed throughout the consideration of the bill. I am sure, that if we can follow that same kind of process here, we can emerge with a bipartisan consensus that we in turn can get strong support from in the Senate.
As everyone knows, when issues get quite controversial in the Senate, we find ourselves needing to get 60 votes to move ahead. I hope that that is not a substantial issue regarding this conference report, and I hope we can produce a product that will get a substantial vote out of the Senate and not just 60 votes.
Key to the elements that I think need to be included, obviously we need to have policies that are environmentally sound reflected in this bill. The Senate did this in two different ways. First, we avoided provisions that would weaken existing environmental laws. That was an important position that we took. Second, we incorporated provisions that affirmatively enhanced renewable energy. That represents some of the largest untapped domestic energy potential. I think it was particularly significant to some of the Democratic members of the Energy Committee and of the Senate that we were able to include a renewable portfolio standard for electricity generation.
I believe that our conference report should also try to reach that same environmentally responsible standard. Clearly, it is important to a great many Members of the Democratic side in the Senate, and I believe the Republican side as well, that the report we bring back does not roll back environmental protections and does incorporate provisions like the renewable portfolio standard that move it in the direction that the Senate indicated it desired to move in.
I am committed to seeing this conference succeed and reporting a bill that can get through the Senate and get to the President for signature. I, along with my Democratic colleagues, plan to work as hard as we cant to deliver and energy bill that is responsive to the critical energy needs of the country for the next decade or more.
It is important to get our energy policies right to come up with a balanced package that stimulates new energy production and new energy production and new energy efficiency, that enhances consumer protections, that respects the environment. I would be pleased if we can accomplish this task in the accelerated timeframe that Chairman Barton has set out, and I will do all I can to assist with that.
But I think we are going to be judged—all of us involved in this process are going to be judged not by how quickly we get this work done, but how well we got it done, and what the final product looks like. So I approach the entire effort with that as our main objective and or main priority.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.”