Energy Efficiency, Producer Tax Credits Key to Low Gas Bills
Congress already has two measures pending that would help to
moderate the effects of the high natural gas bills expected this
winter for consumers - the Clinton administration's package of
energy efficiency measures and short-term tax incentives for
producers, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said last week.
Before adjourning this week, "I think those would be two
important, immediate steps" that Capitol Hill legislators could
take to help to mitigate natural gas prices this winter, Richardson
told NGI following a luncheon at the National Press Club last
He believes another key to reining in prices for gas and other
energy sources this winter will be increasing supplies of crude
oil. "Our hope is that with more crude oil on the market, both
heating oil, natural gas and gasoline prices will moderate," he
told a crowd of energy executives and officials.
Toward this aim, the Department of Energy (DOE) last week
awarded contracts for the transfer of 30 million barrels of crude
oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to 11 Northeast
heating oil suppliers. With this move, the federal government is
hoping to avert a heating oil supply shortage in the Northeast this
winter. The contracts require the suppliers to return to the SPR
31.5 million barrels of crude oil next year.
President Clinton's proposed tax credits would offer incentives
for natural gas and oil producers to drill "mainly on the American
mainland," rather than on the Arctic Natural Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)
in Alaska, which Clinton and Democratic presidential candidate Al
Richardson made clear that ANWR, which he described as a "very
fragile ecosystem," would continue to be off-limits to domestic
producers under a Democratic presidency. "It is our view that there
are other parts in the Lower 48.....that can accomplish the same
goal" as drilling in the Alaskan arctic, he said.
"I think the big [fundamental] difference" between the energy
policies of Gore and Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush
is the opening of ANWR to gas and oil production, Richardson noted.
In last week's televised debate, Bush said he supported drilling in
part of ANWR, noting that he would rather get energy supplies from
the U.S. than hostile Middle East countries.
Under Clinton's term, "natural gas production has increased both
[in the] deep-sea and domestically," Richardson noted. But "we've
got a [pipeline] capacity problem with getting that natural gas to
markets." He urged Congress to pass technology initiatives that
would clear the way for "more rapid" development of needed pipeline
©Copyright 2000 Intelligence Press, Inc. All rights
reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or
redistributed in whole or in part without prior written consent of
Intelligence Press, Inc.