Senate energy plan's bipartisan support grows

Six more US senators have expressed support for a bipartisan energy proposal that includes opening more of the Outer Continental Shelf for leasing.

Nick Snow
Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Aug. 27 -- Six more US senators have expressed support for a bipartisan energy proposal that includes opening more of the Outer Continental Shelf for leasing.

Sens. Thomas J. Carper (D-Del.), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), John E. Sununu (R-NH) and John W. Warner (R-Va.) have joined the so called "Gang of 10," according to its two leaders, Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.).

"We all feel a sense of urgency to help ease fuel prices in the short term while addressing our long-term needs," Conrad said. "This comprehensive, bipartisan framework is now backed by a 'Gang of 16' because it puts every option on the table."

The original group announced their proposal Aug. 1 as Congress headed for its late summer recess (OGJ, Aug. 11, 2008, p. 24). A 48-member US House bipartisan working group unveiled its plan at the same time. Both were designed as proposed compromises in contrast to months of legislative gridlock and strident statements by congressional Democratic and Republican leaders.

"The American people are looking for action on the energy crisis," Chambliss said. "They are not looking for a political issue."

Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.), another of the group's original members, said the group would work to expand the consensus of senators "from 16 to 60" in the coming weeks.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) also agreed to the original group's request for a day-long energy forum and asked Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) to direct it.

Meanwhile, in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has not responded to either the working group's proposal, which now has 70 cosponsors, or to one by six other House members. Both call for leasing more of the OCS. Several House Republicans have stayed in Washington for nearly 3 weeks speaking from a shut-down House floor criticizing Pelosi for not bringing the OCS question to a vote before the recess began.

Two oil industry groups, the American Petroleum Institute and the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, also have criticized the proposal for not opening more of the OCS while imposing billions of dollars in new taxes.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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