Mike Ross on Energy & Oil
Democratic Representative (AR-4)
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Young, R-AK]: The Americans suffering from $4 a gallon gas today must feel like they're experiencing a sense of deja vu. In 2008, when gasoline prices reached a record high of $4.11 per gallon, the public outcry forced Congress to act. That fall, Congress lifted the offshore drilling ban that had been in place for decades. Three years later, most Americans would likely be shocked to learn that no energy development has happened in these new areas.
Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Markey, D-MA]. In the first 3 months of this year, Exxon-Mobil made $10 billion off of the American consumer; Shell made $8 billion; BP made $7 billion. So what are these companies asking for? These companies are now asking that we open up the beaches of California, Florida & New England to drill for oil. People who live near those beaches don't want oil coming in the way it did in the Gulf of Mexico. Right now, those oil companies are centered down in the Gulf of Mexico. People are concerned because those companies have blocked any new safety reforms that would protect against another catastrophic spill. We have to oppose this bill because, first of all, they already have 60 million acres of American land that they haven't drilled on yet, which has about 11 billion barrels of oil underneath it and an equivalent amount of natural gas. This bill is just a giveaway to Exxon-Mobil and Shell.
Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Waxman, D-CA]: This bill is a direct assault on the Clean Air Act. Its premise is that climate change is a hoax and carbon pollution does not endanger health and welfare. But climate change is real. It is caused by pollution, and it is a serious threat to our health and welfare. We need to confront these realities. American families count on the EPA to keep our air and water clean. But this bill has politicians overruling the experts at EPA, and it exempts our biggest polluters from regulation. If this bill is enacted, the EPA's ability to control dangerous carbon pollution will be gutted.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. ED MARKEY (D, MA-7): For the first time in the history of our country, we will put enforceable limits on global warming pollution. At its core, however, this is a jobs bill. It will create millions of new, clean-energy jobs in whole new industries with incentives to drive competition in the energy marketplace. It sets ambitious and achievable standards for energy efficiency and renewable energy from solar, wind, geothermal, biomass so that by 2020, 20% of America's energy will be clean.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. BOB GOODLATTE (R, VA-6): I agree that this bill has very important consequences, but those consequences are devastating for the future of the economy of this country. It's a fantasy that this legislation will turn down the thermostat of the world by reducing CO2 gas emissions when China & India & other nations are pumping more CO2 gas into the atmosphere all the time. We would be far better served with legislation that devotes itself to developing new technologies before we slam the door on our traditional sources of energy like coal and oil and and nuclear power. We support the effort for energy efficiency. We do not support this kind of suicide for the American economy. Unfortunately, cap and trade legislation would only further cripple our economy.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Rep. RICHARD NEAL (D, MA-2): This bill contains extensions of popular tax incentives that expired at the end of last year. This needs to get under way. The R&D tax credit is important. This bill includes a number of popular and forward-thinking incentives for energy efficiency. This is a very balanced bill which does no harm to the Federal Treasury. It asks that hedge fund managers pay a bit more, and it delays an international tax break that hasn't gone into effect yet. It is responsible legislation.
Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. DAVE CAMP (R, MI-4): We are conducting another purely political exercise on a tax bill that is doomed in the other body because of our House majority's insistence on adhering to the misguided PAYGO rules. The Senate acted on a bipartisan basis to find common ground on this issue. They approved a comprehensive tax relief package containing extenders provisions that are not fully offset, as many Democrats would prefer, but contain more offsets than Republicans would like. Why is this our only option? Because the Senate, which has labored long and hard to develop that compromise, has indicated in no uncertain terms that it is not going to reconsider these issues again this year.
[The bill was killed in the Senate].
Congressional Summary: A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide Tax incentives for energy production and conservation, to extend certain expiring provisions, and to provide individual income tax relief.
Opponents argument for voting NAY: Sen. SPECTER: H.R. 6049 would revive important tax provisions that expired at the end of 2007 and extend provisions that are set to expire at the end of 2008. I support extension of the R&D tax credit, the renewable energy tax incentives, and many other important provisions in this package.
Despite the positive elements of this legislation, the main sticking point is whether temporary extensions of tax relief should be offset with permanent tax increases elsewhere. The White House issued a statement recommending a Presidential veto of this bill in its current form. [Vote NAY to] allow the Senate to work its will and pass legislation that can be quickly signed by the President.
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. MATSUI: Today's debate is about investing in renewable energy, which will chart a new direction for our country's energy policy. This bill restores balance to our energy policy after years of a tax structure that favors huge oil companies. Today's legislation will transfer some of the massive profits enjoyed by these oil companies and invest them in renewable resources that will power our economy in the future.
OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. SMITH of Texas: I oppose H.R. 5351. While it is well and good to encourage alternative energy development, Congress should not do so by damaging our domestic oil and gas industry. In 2006 all renewable energy sources provided only 6% of the US domestic energy supply. In contrast, oil and natural gas provided 58% of our domestic energy supply. The numbers don't lie. Oil and natural gas fuel our economy and sustain our way of life.
Furthermore, almost 2 million Americans are directly employed in the oil and natural gas industry. Punishing one of our Nation's most important industries does not constitute a national energy policy.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Bill passed House, 236-182
Blue Dogs believe in a balanced energy plan that expands our energy supply by promoting a diverse energy mix. As a country blessed with a diverse energy portfolio of traditional fossil fuels and viable renewable energy sources, we believe it is critical to promote a forward-looking, market-based, and balanced national energy strategy. We must encourage research and development in new energy technologies that promote the greatest level of conservation at home, in business, and in industry. Reducing national energy intensity through energy efficient applications can save consumers and business billions in extra energy costs while also reducing polluting emissions. Pursuing these collective goals will strengthen our energy security, diversify our energy mix, and provide Americans with reliable and affordable energy sources.
OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill to provide for Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV) refueling capability at new and existing refueling station facilities to promote energy security and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: We have all heard from folks back home about the high price of gasoline. The bill I am introducing today is designed to do something about fuel prices and our reliance on foreign oil.
Last week, I visited a gasoline station in Springfield, IL, where along with regular gasoline, a new kind of fuel is offered for consumers--a fuel known as E-85. E-85 is a clean, alternative form of fuel consisting of a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Ethanol is made from renewable, Midwestern corn, and it is 40-60 cents cheaper per gallon than standard gasoline. Last week, at this Springfield station, regular gasoline was listed at $2.06 and E-85 was selling for $1.69.
Not every car can run on E-85 fuel--but there are millions of cars that can. They're known as "flexible-fuel vehicles," and the auto industry is turning them out every year. The only problem we have now is that we're in short supply of E-85 stations. While there are more than 180,000 gas stations all over America, there are only about 400 E-85 stations. And although E-85 has many environmental benefits and is a higher performing fuel, the fuel economy of E-85 is slightly lower than that of regular gasoline. An additional incentive is needed to help ensure that the cost of this clean fuel remains competitive with that of regular gasoline.
That is why I'm introducing a bill to provide a tax credit of 50% for building an E-85 fuel station and a tax credit of 35 cents per gallon of E-85 fuel. I think this bill gives us an opportunity to actually get something done about energy independence.
LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Finance Committee; never came to a vote.
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 CAF scores as follows:
The Campaign for America's Future (CAF) is a center for ideas and action that works to build an enduring majority for progressive change. The Campaign advances a progressive economic agenda and a vision of the future that works for the many, not simply the few. The Campaign is leading the fight for America's priorities--against privatization of Social Security, for investment in energy independence, good jobs and a sustainable economy, for an ethical and accountable Congress and for high quality public education.
About the CAF report, "Energy Independence: Record vs. Rhetoric":
Energy independence has surfaced as a defining issue in the current elections. Are most candidates and both parties truly committed? To help distinguish the demonstrated level of support for homegrown, clean energy alternatives, we examined the voting records of current U.S. Representatives and Senators on bills vital to promoting those interests. Key pieces of legislation included goals for independence, and subsidies for the development of alternatives compared to subsidies for drilling and digging. We then compared votes on these issues with campaign contributions from major oil interests. The results show strong inverse correlations between political contributions from big oil and votes for energy independence.
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has operated continuously--with various name changes and jurisdictional changes--for more than 200 years. The Committee has developed what is arguably the broadest (non-tax-oriented) jurisdiction of any Congressional committee. Today, it maintains principal responsibility for legislative oversight relating to telecommunications, consumer protection, food and drug safety, public health, air quality and environmental health, the supply and delivery of energy, and interstate and foreign commerce in general. This jurisdiction extends over five Cabinet-level departments and seven independent agencies--from the Department of Energy, Health and Human Services, the Transportation Department to the Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration, and Federal Communications Commission--and sundry quasi-governmental organizations.
A resolution that it is the goal of the United States that, not later than January 1, 2025, the agricultural, forestry, and working land of the US should provide from renewable resources not less than 25% of the total energy consumed and continue to produce safe, abundant, and affordable food, feed, and fiber. [Governors also signed letters of endorsement at www.25x25.org]
Rep. SALAZAR: "Our resolution establishes a national goal of producing 25% of America's energy from renewable sources--like solar, wind and biofuels--by 2025. The "25x'25" vision is widely endorsed, bold, and fully attainable. If implemented, it would dramatically improve our energy security, our economy, and our ability to protect the environment.
"I am pleased that more than 20 of my colleagues in the Senate, from both sides of the aisle, are cosponsoring this resolution. In addition, the "25x'25" vision has been endorsed by 22 current and former governors and several State legislatures across the country. The Big Three automobile manufacturers--Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors--are all behind "25x'25" So are many agricultural organizations, environmental groups, scientists, and businesses, ranging from the Natural Resources Defense Council to John Deere.
"These Americans understand that we cannot continue to import 60% of our oil from foreign countries, many of which are hostile to the US, if we aim to be strong and secure in the world. They know that we will have to build a clean energy economy if we are to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It is time for Congress to take a more active role in our clean energy future. Establishing a national goal--"25x'25" is the first step."