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[greenyes] Seante passed Democrats energy bill from 2002
GreenYes,

In a rush toward the August recess, the Republicans and Democrats struck a 
last minute deal short-circuiting debate on energy policy to pass a bill.  
Amendments such as the McCain-Lieberman amendment capping greenhouse gas emissions 
never came up for debate or a vote.

Senate Republicans abandoned their energy bill yesterday afternoon, after it 
became apparent that amendments by Democrats would force them either to delay 
the August recess or carry over the bill until September.  In a remarkable 
mid-day exchange between Republican Majority Leader Frist and  Democrat Minority 
Leader Daschle, the idea of taking up the bill approved last year when 
Democrats controlled the Senate became the means to break the deadlock.

So what does it mean in terms of energy policy, consumer protection and the 
environment? That depends on the Senate-House conference commitee.

However, a few things stand out in terms of difference in the two bills 
considered in the U.S. Senate last year (Democrats' bill) and this year 
(Republicans' bill).

The bill crafted by Democrats last year passed the Senate in April 2002 by a 
vote of 88 to 11.  Some key aspects of the bill, include what Democrats say 
are:

- Better consumer protections on utility issues,
- More emphasis on promoting renewable energy sources,
- Some focus on climate-change issues that would likely have been ignored in 
the Republican bill this year.

There were no nuclear energy subsidies in last year's bill, according to 
published news reports.

And Democrats did include requirements for greater use of ethanol as a fuel 
additive to satisfy farmers, which draws critcisms from some environmentalists.

Republicans had at least $10 billion in subsidies in S. 14 this year for 
nuclear and fossil fuels, nothing on climate change and many devstating provisions 
which recieved little or no media cover.

One of the most dangerous provision in S. 14 would have gutted PURPA, 
allowing companies with vast reserves of cash (i.e., General Electric, Cisco, or even 
Microsoft) to purchase utilities.

The Senate voted last night to approve the Democrats bill 84 to 14.  Both 
sides claimed a victory. Republian Senator Pete Domenici and Congressman Billy 
Tauzin will lead the conference committee.  And Domenici said "We will write a 
completely different bill," according to The New York Times.

In the New York Times this morning, Adam Kolton, legislative direct for the 
National Wildlife Federation, says a conference committee led by Domenici and 
Tauzin "is Enron and Exxon negotiating with each other."

Unfortunately, a number of important amendments, such as McCain-Lieberman, 
did come to a floor vote as a result of this deal.  But McCain-Lieberman is 
likely to be brought up later as an amendment to other legislation.

Lance King
Community Solutions
(703) 536-7282

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