"House Dems plan vote on offshore drilling, renewables bill this week"
E&E News PM (subs. req’d) reports:
House Democratic leaders will bring energy legislation to the floor this week that expands offshore drilling, repeals oil industry tax and royalty incentives, and seeks to boost renewable energy use, lawmakers and aides say.
The good news is that for the first time that I’ve seen, the House Democratic bill is reported to include extending the renewable energy credits. Although the plan isn’t final, Dems said the bill may include:
- Expansion of outer continental shelf (OCS) leasing to include areas in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the coasts of the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia. These are the same areas included in the “Gang of 10″ plan in the Senate. The bipartisan Senate plan would allow drilling as close as 50 miles from the Southeastern state coasts, and the same distance from Florida in the gulf. But House lawmakers and aides did not say how close to shore their plan would allow drilling, instead saying only that it would address the same states as the Senate measure.
- New revenues from oil companies. A Democratic leadership aide said the bill may include provisions to ensure payment of royalties from late-1990s deepwater Gulf of Mexico leases that currently allow royalty waivers regardless of energy prices. The absence of price-based limits on these royalty waivers could cost the Treasury as much as $14.7 billion over 25 years, according to the Government Accountability Office. The bill may also include the repeal of the Section 199 tax deduction for major oil companies. This plan, past versions of which have also frozen the deduction at 6 percent for non-majors, raises roughly $13.6 billion over a decade, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated in June.
- A so-called renewable electricity standard that requires utilities to supply escalating amounts of power from sources like wind and geothermal power. The House Democrats plan to include a standard of 15 percent by 2020, an aide said, akin to a measure the House approved last year that did not survive negotiations with the Senate. The plan allows roughly a fourth of the standard to be met with efficiency measures.
- Extension of renewable energy and energy efficiency tax credits.
The article notes:
Democrats have also said the bill may include language to expand Commodity Futures Trading Commission regulation of oil markets and pressure oil companies to produce on their existing leases.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also said the bill could include provisions to help automakers retool to make more efficient vehicles and said this could also be part of an economic stimulus package being prepared or the continuing resolution to extend government spending beyond the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year. The major energy bill enacted last year authorized loan and loan guarantee programs for manufacturing advanced technology vehicles.
Democrats have been under relentless pressure from GOP members to allow votes on ending OCS leasing bans, placing some members of the Democratic caucus in a difficult spot as calls to drill have increased, since polls show that voters are backing such a pro-drilling message.
The Democrats’ bill faces huge obstacles and is highly unlikely to become law. The new drilling falls short of what the GOP wants. Also, provisions that raise oil industry taxes and the renewable power standard have failed to garner 60 Senate votes and have also drawn consistent White House veto threats.
But Democrats are using the bill to try and turn the tables on Republicans, who have been alleging that Democrats are blocking more domestic oil production. “It will come down to this when it comes to energy: Whose side are you on, the side of the American consumer and the taxpayer or Big Oil?” Pelosi said.
GOP pushes energy amendments
Republicans will continue to push for oil and gas drilling amendments to non-energy measures moving in the House, Rules Committee ranking member David Dreier (R-Calif.) said today.
During a Rules Committee hearing, Republicans made a failed attempt to add several energy-related amendments to H.R. 3667, which would require a study of the Missisquoi and Trout rivers in Vermont for potential designation as wild and scenic.
One amendment from Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) would have attached H.R. 6566, an amalgamation of previously introduced GOP bills aimed primarily at boosting domestic production of oil and alternative fuels, to the end of the bill.
Republicans say Congress should focus on the energy question before moving on to other matters like the river study. “The idea of doing it at the expense of [energy] issues is something I think we need to point out,” Dreier said. “As important as it may be, we need to focus on energy.”
- Reid floats votes on 3 drilling plans next week
- Gang-of-10 deal, Part 4: Pick of B.O.S.S. Palin and McCain’s speech make it a must for Dems
- Senate Dems push bipartisan drilling bill
- Congressional Dems get smart on pushing “all of the above” energy vote
- Gang-of-10, Part 3: More good stuff, some ugly
- Gang-of-10 Part 2.5: House GOP says drill here, drill now, compromise … later
- The good, the bad and the ugly of the Gang-of-10 drilling deal, Part 2: Something for nothing?
- Since offshore oil is de minimis, why shouldn’t Obama and the Dems make a deal? Part 1