WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources, today said that the energy bill passed in the House of Representatives contains serious flaws, and should be opposed in the Senate.
Domenici spent weeks negotiating with Democrats in the House and Senate to draft a bipartisan energy bill that contained a Renewable Fuel Standard, strengthened CAFE (fuel economy) standards, and provided for energy efficiency improvements. However, after agreement had been reached on most issues, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed out of the deal, and inserted several costly and controversial measures into the energy bill.
“For weeks, we negotiated in good faith with the House to put together a bill that could pass both houses and be signed into law. The bill we drafted would diversify our fuel supply, contain a strong CAFE measure to improve our fuel economy standard for the first time in 32 years, and improve our energy efficiency. By breaking our agreement, the Speaker of the House has chosen to squander this historic opportunity and instead pass a bill that will dramatically increase costs for consumers, both in their homes and at the pump,” Domenici said.
Majority Leader Harry Reid has publicly stated that he will seek to move quickly on the House bill, depriving the Senate of its ability to pass the bipartisan, bicameral, agreed-upon text. As a result, the Senate will be asked to pass a bill that was drafted behind closed doors by a select few House Democrats.
“The process by which this bill has been drafted is unprecedented. The Senate should not be forced to accept a bill written by Speaker Pelosi behind closed doors with no input from the Senate. For that reason alone, Senators should oppose this legislation and insist to be heard. I will do everything in my power to defeat this measure so we can get to work on a bipartisan bill that will tackle our problems, not add to them,” Domenici said.
Unlike the agreement reached by House and Senate negotiators, the House bill contains a one-size-fits-all Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) which would mandate that 15% of our nation’s electricity supply come from renewable sources. However, many states, particularly those in the Southeast, lack the natural resources to meet the standard. As a result, utilities in those states would be forced to pay billions in fines, leading to higher electricity costs for consumers. Industry estimates put the cost of the House RPS proposal at over $95 billion by 2030.
The Pelosi energy bill also contains $21 billion in tax increases on domestic oil and natural gas production. Over $13 billion of that total is achieved by repealing provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which make it easier for American companies to compete in the global oil market, which is dominated by Saudi, Russian, and Chinese state-owned companies. By increasing the cost of doing business for American companies, the House energy bill will lead to higher prices at the pump and could result in an increased reliance on foreign oil.
The House bill also significantly weakens the Renewable Fuels Standard by allowing for the EPA Administrator to completely cancel the mandate after 2016, which will create uncertainty in the market. The House also seeks to punish ethanol because it is transported in trucks, by including transportation and land-usage as factors in the requirement that biofuels have 20% lower greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum it displaces.