Senate Democrats to Respond with Own Energy Bill
In a rebuff to the Senate Republicans' omnibus energy bill, the
ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Committee plans to introduce his own comprehensive energy
legislation this week, according to a spokeswoman.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) intends to take a "more centrist and
balanced approach" to domestic energy issues in his bill, said the
senator's spokeswoman, Jude McCartin. The Republican energy measure
unveiled by Sen.Frank Murkowski (R-AK) in late February "was
focused pretty heavily on the supply side," but Bingaman's
legislation will propose a mix of initiatives aimed at both
boosting energy supply and limiting demand, she noted.
A draft of Bingaman's measure includes a series of proposals to
improve energy efficiency, reflecting the senator's belief that
improved efficiency is the single most effective and least costly
way for the nation to work through its short-term and long-term
energy problems. "We cannot produce our way to independence from
foreign oil supplies," Bingaman said two weeks ago.
Of interest to the oil and natural gas industries, the Bingaman
measure is expected to address an area that the Republicans stayed
clear of in their legislation --- producer access to public lands.
A draft of his bill calls for an inventory to be taken of public
lands with the greatest geological potential, focusing on the "most
prospective areas, evaluation of geological complexity and cost of
Bingaman also proposes increased planning and staffing at
agencies to facilitate the development of public lands. In
addition, the draft seeks a review of the policies and practices
that are restricting oil and gas development on non-federal lands.
The proposed initiative also is expected to include a provision or
provisions that seek to maximize deep-water production of oil and
Unlike the Republican's energy legislation, the Bingaman bill
will not include a provision to open the coastal plain region of
the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration and
development, McCartin said. However, it will propose tax incentives
for early construction of a long-line natural gas pipeline from
Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope of Alaska to the Lower 48 states,
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