House adopts plan to boost renewables, ease offshore drilling ban

Posted on September 17, 2008. Filed under: Energy Policy, General |

From an article by Carl Hulse in The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The House on Tuesday night approved a measure that would ease a longstanding ban on offshore oil drilling and try to spur greater use of alternative fuels as Democrats and Republicans engaged in a bitter pre-election clash over America’s energy future.

Under the Democratic legislation, adopted by a vote of 236 to 189, oil companies would lose some tax benefits, utilities would be required to produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and a ban on developing fuel from Rocky Mountain shale would be lifted.

The legislation, which faces significant hurdles to becoming law before Congress breaks at the end of the month, would allow drilling as close as 50 miles from the coastline if adjacent states agree and 100 miles out no matter a state’s position. It would impose stricter oversight on the agency that handles oil leasing and royalty payments after recent disclosures of improper relationships between its employees and oil industry representatives. . . .

The outlook for the measure is uncertain with only two weeks before Congress is set to break until at least the November elections and perhaps until next year. The Senate is preparing to take up a similar bill, but even if it averts a filibuster, it seems unlikely that the bills could be reconciled before the break. And the White House on Tuesday threatened a veto of the House plan.

The Senate was to initially consider extending a series of $17 billion in tax breaks for renewable energy like wind and solar power and then try to sort through proposals that could include the House bill, a bipartisan Senate plan that would allow new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast and a separate Republican plan.

Among other objections, House Republicans joined industry in criticizing the measure because it would eliminate about $18 billion in tax breaks for oil companies, including a manufacturing deduction of particular benefit to large firms. The savings from the oil companies would be diverted to pay for tax breaks and incentives for renewable fuels, vehicles that use alternative energy and other fuel efficiency programs and research. . . .

An article by Eoin O’Carroll in The Christian Science Monitor summarizes the bill.

These members of the House of Representatives issued media releases on the bill:

Rep. Ryan – “More hot air from Congress” says Ryan
Rep. Kind – Kind votes to advance comprehensive energy plan
Rep. Obey – Obey backs comprehensive energy bill


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