The Energy Bill $ubsidies

While many scientists, environmentalists, policy-analysts, and experts decry the current proposed Energy Bill now approaching final Congressional vote, the myriad renewable energy industries have largely spoken in favor of the current legislation. Bill Wicker, the Democratic Communications Director for the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, offered up the following list compiling various subsidies for which Wicker and his fellow Democrats felt compelled to highlight. And it’s not just the lavish fossil fuel and Nuclear giveaways either.

Washington, D.C. – November 18, 2003 [] NUCLEAR AUTHORIZES the Secretary of Energy to give US$30 million to uranium mining companies to use “in situ leaching” technology, which can cause uranium and toxic chemicals to contaminate public groundwater resources. DIRECTS the Department of Energy to build a new nuclear reactor in Idaho, using an experimental technology, to make hydrogen. – DOES NOT REQUIRE the standard cost-share from industry. – WAIVES the Department’s own program management rules for the project. – AUTHORIZES over $1.1 billion for the project. GEOTHERMAL ALLOWS geothermal developers to opt to pay only 50 percent of the royalties currently due under an existing federal geothermal lease for new and expanded production for four years. ALLOWS geothermal developers to convert geothermal leases into mining claims where production byproducts are locatable minerals under the Mining Law of 1872, and to obtain vested property rights in federal lands at no cost. ALLOWS industry to be reimbursed for the costs of environmental compliance, setting new precedent under NEPA. HYDROPOWER SUBSIDIZES hydropower industry by providing incentive payments for 10 years of 1.8 cents per kWh (not to exceed $750,000 per facility per year) for hydroelectric production resulting from the addition of generating devices at existing dams. SUBSIDIZES hydropower producers through payments of up to $750,000 per facility for efficiency improvements. PERMITS industry to write cost-saving alternative conditions and fishway prescriptions which must be included in hydroelectric licenses if threshold standards are met. OIL AND GAS PROVIDES new authority for the Secretary to waive or reduce royalties and rentals to be paid by oil and gas industry on production on the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. INCLUDES BROAD WAIVER of liability for oil and gas companies reclaiming abandoned well sites on federal lands. ESTABLISHES $100 MILLION per year loan program for the oil and gas industry to demonstrate and encourage use of technologies for recovery of oil and gas from onshore reservoirs. ALLOWS the oil and gas industry to be reimbursed for the costs of environmental compliance, setting new precedent under NEPA. PROVIDES tens of millions in payments to Louisiana and certain state lessees as compensation for drainage from the OCS even though section 8(g) of the OCS Lands Act was intended to provide this compensation. PROVIDES for coastal impact assistance for seven coastal states (Alaska, Alabama, California, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas) totaling $1.1 billion in payments over 10 years (according to Republican staff). COAL AUTHORIZES four loans or loan guarantees for specific coal or coke-based facilities in specific States (Alaska, West Virginia, Louisiana, and Minnesota), with no limit on federal liability on loan guarantees. PROVIDES new flexibility in the calculation of advanced royalties to be paid by industry in lieu of production on federal coal leases. ALLOWS the coal industry to default on installment bonus bid payments, relinquish the lease and never make payment. ENERGY INDUSTRY LIMITS PAYMENT BY ENERGY INDUSTRY for easements and rights-of-way for energy facilities and renewable energy development on the outer Continental Shelf to a one-time or annual payment only. Prohibits payments based on throughput or energy output. REMOVES discretion of Secretary to set the value for the use of rights-of-way on public lands and Forest Service lands. TIMBER AUTHORIZES $50 million to subsidize companies to remove trees, including large fire-resistant trees important for forest health, and burn them for energy. ETHANOL AUTHORIZES $2 billion over eight years for MTBE merchant producer assistance. ESTABLISHES a commercial byproducts from municipal solid waste and cellulosic biomass loan guarantee program. AUTHORIZES $12 million for resource centers at the University of Mississippi and the University of Oklahoma to further develop bio-conversion technology using low cost biomass for the production of ethanol. PROVIDES $125 million in grants to RFG states with low rates of ethanol production to research and develop renewable fuel production technologies. AUTHORIZES $750 million in cellulosic biomass and waste-derived ethanol conversion assistance. AUTHORIZES $3.25 billion to the Administrator to fund new leaking underground storage tank clean-up, inspection and operator training programs. ELECTRICITY AUTHORIZES $140 million for research, development, demonstration, and commercial application program focused on power delivery using components incorporating high temperature superconductivity. AUTHORIZES $70 million for direct payments to owners or operators of advanced power system technologies and qualifying security and assured power facilities. REQUIRES regulatory approval for transmission pricing schemes that allow utilities to charge others for construction of transmission that the utility will own, and can use without paying. REQUIRES regulatory approval for utilities to increase transmission rates to customers. MISCELLANEOUS PROVIDES up to $500 million to the Denali Commission (over 10 years) for the purposes of funding the power cost equalization program established under the Alaska Statutes.

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