More House Democrats introduce compromise energy legislation

Six more US House Democrats introduced their own bill Aug. 1 to open more of the OCS to oil and gas leasing and repeal a moratorium on oil shale lease regulation preparation.

Nick Snow
Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Aug. 12 -- Six more US House Democrats introduced their own bill Aug. 1 to open more of the Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas leasing and repeal a moratorium on oil shale lease regulation preparation while accelerating alternative energy research and development.

"Rather than waste more time pointing fingers, I believe we have to pull all the levers available to us, starting with producing as much oil and natural gas as possible in this country," said the bill's sponsor Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) Aug. 6. Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Mike Doyle (Pa.), Charlie Melancon (La.), and John S. Tanner (Tenn.) are cosponsors.

HR 6817, the Fulfilling US Energy Leadership (FUEL) Act, followed HR 6709, which has 49 Democratic and Republican sponsors, to the floor on Aug. 1, but it resembled the bipartisan proposal advanced by the US Senate's so-called "Gang of 10" the same day (OGJ, Aug. 11, 2008, p. 24).

HR 6817 would establish a fund to accelerate research and development of next-generation alternative and energy-efficiency technologies with as much as $40 billion financed from OCS revenues. The US Energy secretary would be authorized to invest the money in plug-in electric vehicles, smart grid technology, wind and solar energy, industrial and vehicle energy efficiency, and other projects.

It also would provide the US Commodities Futures Trading Commission more authority to regulate energy commodity trading and increase its full-time workforce by 100 employees. It would extend renewable energy R&D tax credits and provide $1.5 billion for carbon capture and sequestration projects. And it would direct the Energy secretary to study the impact of more nuclear power on energy costs and establish an interagency working group to identify incentives.

"Although there is no one solution to this crisis and no one political party or politician to blame, many of us feel that drilling for oil and natural gas has to be part of the comprehensive solution," Tanner said on Aug. 6. "In the FUEL Act, we propose lifting the ban on domestic drilling while also investing in the development of alternative forms of energy. Both of these steps will help loosen our dependence on foreign oil," he said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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