As the Senate began its second day of debate on the omnibus energy bill, President Bush on Wednesday called on Capitol Hill lawmakers to stop sparring over the controversial issues like methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and get a bill to his desk by the end of summer.
“Now is the time to stop the debate and the partisan bickering and pass an energy bill. I look forward to working with members of the Congress to come up with reasonable compromises on outstanding issues such as MTBE,” he said during a forum sponsored by the United States Energy Association (USEA) in Washington, DC.
“But for the sake of national security and for the sake of economic security, the Congress needs to pass an energy bill now,” he told energy executives and regulators.
Bush renewed his call for Congress to deliver an energy bill to him before the August recess. “My advice is they [lawmakers] ought to keep this in mind: Summer is here, temperatures are rising and tempers will really rise if Congress doesn’t pass an energy bill” this year. Efforts to pass an energy bill in previous years have collapsed in conference.
The House energy bill, which was passed in late April, would give producers of the gasoline-additive MTBE liability protection from lawsuits involving the contamination of the groundwater in several states. Both House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) and Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, are committed to shielding MTBE producers in the energy bill.
But MTBE is not part of the Senate energy bill and this is not likely to change. “In the United States Senate, [MTBE] would be a killer amendment,” threatening the entire energy bill, said Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on Wednesday.
If the MTBE issue is unresolved by the two houses, the energy bill could die again in conference.
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