By OGJ editors
WASHINGTON, DC, Aug. 27 -- With Congress expected back from a month-long recess in early September, industry groups are gearing up for a final lobbying push on energy reform legislation. Representing a wide cross section of industry interests, including producers, the National Association of Manufacturers said it supports Conference Chairman Billy Tauzin's (R-La.) announced schedule for finalizing an energy bill in October, "hoping that all lawmakers act in good faith and avoid the temptation to politicize energy as an issue for November elections.
"A comprehensive energy policy is critical to America's long-term economic growth. Congress must act responsibly or be held accountable if it does not," NAM said.
In an Aug. 26 weekly report, NAM offered several talking points for its members to use when approaching Capitol Hill staff.
"Higher energy demand and prices mean higher costs of living and higher business costs; with our nascent economic recovery struggling to gain momentum, these higher costs threaten to spark inflation and underscore the urgent need for a comprehensive energy policy that promotes reliable supplies at affordable prices," the weekly bulletin said.
NAM prefers House bill
According to NAM, the House bill works in general terms to increase energy supplies, while the Senate bill relies on mandates that "supposedly" improve efficiency.
It said it will push to have in final legislation "key" elements of the House bill, which NAM characterized as "virtually identical to President Bush's energy proposal providing for: increased domestic energy supplies, expansion of energy-delivery infrastructure, improved energy efficiency and conservation technologies, and the safeguarding of our environment."
The group also took issue with the Senate bill for including "mandates such as the renewable portfolio standard and climate change title that includes mandatory carbon dioxide reporting (that) are at odds with the President's proposal and would not improve energy efficiency."
According to NAM, mandatory carbon dioxide reporting "is nothing more than a precursor to a cap-and-trade system that could quickly lead to the type of energy rationing envisioned in the Bush-rejected Kyoto Protocol."
NAM, however said the electricity provisions in the Senate bill are useful. "The Senate bill does offer some promise in its electricity title, and the NAM is working to keep much of this language in a final energy bill," it said.
Talks and negotiations
NAM told its members that the House and Senate staff worked throughout August "to reconcile many differences" in their two competing versions of a comprehensive energy. Some congressional staff, however, took issue with that description, saying that few issues have been completely settled during the recess that ends Sept. 2.
Immediately before leaving for the summer break, lawmakers in late July agreed to 51 relatively non-controversial provisions related to energy efficiency, Indian energy, and low-income energy assistance. But the heavy lifting on such hotly-debated topics such as leasing a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, clean fuel provisions, a proposed Alaska natural gas pipeline, and sweeping oil and gas tax provisions are still to be done, said staff familiar with discussions.