Domenici Statement on Energy Bill Negotiations

December 1, 2007
10:31 AM
            WASHINGTON – Following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement outlining the energy bill that will be considered in the House of Representatives next week, U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, issued the following statement:
            “From the beginning, I have been concerned that the lack of a formal conference committee would make it impossible to complete work on an energy bill that would contain the right priorities and have the votes to pass the Senate.  It appears as though my fears have been well founded.
            “For weeks, my staff, along with Senator Bingaman’s, has been engaged in good faith negotiations with the House under a defined set of parameters laid out at the start of the process.  We have made substantial bipartisan progress toward finalizing a bill. The legislation we have been working on contained a robust, much-needed Renewable Fuels Standard, important provisions on energy efficiency and carbon sequestration, and a long overdue increase in fuel economy standards. The parameters agreed to by Speaker Pelosi and communicated to us by Senate Democrats did not include a renewable portfolio standard.  
            “It appears, however, that Speaker Pelosi has gone back on her word and chosen to go her own path on the energy bill.  The inclusion of a costly, ineffective Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) will make this bill untenable for many in the Senate.  RPS may not be the only deviation from the negotiated bill text, as the Speaker appears willing to take advantage of the lack of a formal conference committee process and institute other changes in the bill as she sees fit. 
            “The Speaker expects the Senate to discard a negotiated, bipartisan agreement in favor of her bill without amendment. That is no way to pass legislation and is another in a long list of reasons why Congress has lost the faith and trust of the American people. 
            “RPS places an unfair burden on states that lack the natural resources to meet a new renewable electricity standard.  Consumers that live in such states--many in the South—will undoubtedly be forced to pay substantially higher electricity rates, with no additional renewable electricity to show for it.  Why should the average rate payer in Kentucky or Mississippi be punished because their state doesn’t naturally have the resources to produce this type of energy?
            “I strongly support the use of renewable energy, and in fact led the charge in 2005 to pass the largest tax credits ever for wind, solar and other new clean energy technologies.  However, a one-size-fits all, mandatory federal RPS is not the right approach to achieve our common goals.  I fear that the inclusion of RPS will make it much harder to enact this much-needed legislation, particularly in light of previous Statements of Administration Policy on RPS.
            “At this time, I have instructed my staff to cease their work on the energy bill, since the final bill apparently will not be the product of our bipartisan negotiations.  As someone who has been working for 35 years to forge bipartisan, good-faith compromises on tough issues like the federal budget and energy policy, I know that your word means everything.  It is particularly disappointing for me to see that such a sentiment seems to be a thing of the past.