Senate Energy Bill Debate to Begin

The full Senate is expected to turn this week to consideration of the comprehensive energy policy bill. Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) have both stated that they expect at least two weeks of debate with hopes of completing the bill by the July 4 congressional recess.

The Energy Committee approved the bill by a bipartisan vote of 21-1, but left a number of contentious issues – including a national renewables portfolio standard – for floor consideration. A package of energy tax provisions — including the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) — is scheduled to be taken up by the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, June 16, according to the according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Once approved by the Finance Committee, the energy tax items will be melded into the energy bill on the floor. AWEA is also anticipating an anti-wind amendment offered by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. John Warner (R-Virg.), targeted at prohibiting the use of the PTC for certain projects. Alexander intends to offer as an amendment the language from S. 1208, which would prohibit projects gaining access to the PTC that are 20 miles from a coastline, national park, national seashore, national lakeshore or the 20 World Heritage sites in the U.S. It would also require a 180-day (six-month) waiting period for local communities to review any proposed wind project. Alexander modified his original anti-wind bill (S. 1034) by dropping a provision limiting access to the PTC within 20 miles of a military base. The bill’s detrimental effects on future offshore wind construction offer some interesting connections. It was recently revealed in an article by the Associated Press that Sen. Alexander owns undeveloped property worth close to 1 million dollars on the Island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, close to where Cape Wind Associates are hoping to build the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. Sen. Alexander said there’s no connection, but the news has wind power advocates riled (see the following link below). By severely limiting new wind energy development, anti-wind amendments like Sen. Alexander’s would result in more air pollution and more acid rain from burning fossil fuels while also eliminating thousands of American jobs, and would move American energy policy in the wrong direction, according to AWEA. President Bush is expected to speak out in support of the energy bill today and to emphasize the need for Congress to get the final energy bill to his desk by the August recess. Some Information Courtesy of AWEA

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