Legislation proposed by Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR) would promote American energy independence by opening both the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and natural gas production and would create tax credits for the development of nuclear plants.

The "American-Made Energy Act of 2008" (HR 5437) would make significant investments in alternative and renewable energy and encourage increased domestic production "to address our nation's failed energy policies and rising gas and electricity prices," Ross said.

Opening the OCS and ANWR would increase domestic supply and bring down the cost of fuel in the short term, Ross said. The federal share of lease and royalty revenue would be placed in a trust fund, which would then be used to fund the alternative and renewable energy provisions of the bill, he added.

The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), would create a 20% investment tax credit to help build nuclear facilities with a goal of having 40% of U.S. electricity being produced by nuclear sources by 2050; provide $1.5 billion in credits for the creation of carbon capture and sequestration projects; provide a 50% investment tax credit for the construction of cellulosic biomass ethanol plants; and would extend tax credits for the production of electricity from renewable resources.

The measure would create a consumer tax credit to buy new plug-in electric and flex-fuel vehicles and expand the use of biodiesel by federal and state government vehicle fleets, and would extend and modify the new energy-efficient home credit and the energy-efficient commercial buildings deduction.

The American Gas Association said it applauds Ross's proposal, which it called "important legislation" that would increase the production of domestic fuel sources, promote the development of biofuels, support alternative/renewable electricity and increase energy efficiency.

"This proposed legislation goes a long way to provide important new provisions for all energy sources for a diverse, comprehensive energy mix," said AGA CEO David Parker. "AGA looks forward to working with Rep. Ross and Congress as they consider this legislation. Natural gas is expected to play a major role in new climate change policies, making increased access to natural gas supplies a priority in order to meet the country's growing clean energy demands."

Ross's bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Ross is a member of the committee's Energy and Air Quality subcommittee.

Last week Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee unveiled legislation (HR 5351) that would fund renewable energy and energy conservation at the expense of oil and gas producers. The bill would strip oil and gas companies of tax incentives and use them to extend tax credits for renewable fuels, such as wind, solar, geothermal, cellulosic ethanol and biofuels, and promote energy conservation. Many of the tax credits for renewable energy are due to expire at the end of the year.

In his State of The Union speech last month, President Bush urged Congress to pass legislation opening access to domestic oil and gas resources in the OCS (see NGI, Feb. 4). Bush also called for increased use of renewable power and emissions-free nuclear power; greater investment in advanced battery technology and renewable fuels to power cars and trucks in the future; the creation of a $2 billion international clean technology fund to help developing nations like China and India make greater use of clean energy; and the completion of a Kyoto Protocol-like international agreement within two years that has the potential to "slow, stop and eventually reverse" the growth of greenhouse gases.

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