Democratic News

Last week, as lawmakers prepared to leave, Sen. Bingaman’s plan for advancing energy legislation in a manageable, step-by-step way seems to have taken bipartisan hold in Congress. As early as last February, Bingaman began making the case that America needs a fresh approach to legislating energy. Noting the short and congested Congressional calendar and the fact that the comprehensive energy bill was stuck due to a disagreement between House and Senate Republicans, Bingaman said that the sensible thing to do was to "move forward on the items that are most needed in energy policy and most realistic in terms of passing both Houses." For months, some in Congress balked at separating provisions from the big energy bill and moving them independently -- as part of other legislation or as stand-alone bills. Now, in the twilight of the 108th Congress, that’s precisely what happened. With the end of this session in sight, many in the media (and around town) are putting together a report card on the 108th Congress. We’d like to help by pointing out the Democratic energy priorities which have made it through, including: -- Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline provisions. The text of almost all of these sections is virtually identical to language originally proposed by Senate Democrats and passed in the 107th Congress. -- Reauthorization of Energy Savings Performance Contracts. Sen. Jim Inhofe and Sen. Bingaman led the effort to reinstate (and extend) this popular efficiency program. -- Package of energy tax incentives that Bingaman and others crafted in Finance Committee and in the corporate tax bill conference. These include credits for renewable energy that is used to generate electricity … tax relief for domestic oil and gas produced from marginal wells during times of low prices … and incentives for the production of ethanol and alcohol-based fuels. -- Correcting the 85/15 rule. This change will help rural electric co-ops across the country remain competitive in today’s restructured utility industry; without it, many could lose their tax-exempt status. -- Extension of Price-Anderson. This modification to the Price-Anderson Act extends for two more years the Department of Energy’s indemnification authority with its contractors. As always, we welcome calls if you have questions.

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