Please see my Sunday guest column in the Tennessean on the federal energy bill below.
Other recent blog posts concerning issues related to the energy bill include.
Who owns big oil anyway?
Is the cure worse than the disease?
Congress must reconsider energy bills to get it right
By State Representative Susan Lynn
What amounts to a lackluster performance by both chambers of Congress has left the United States with pieces of energy legislation that would jeopardize America’s long-term energy security rather than advance it. Our country needs all forms of energy. Yet, the current legislative juncture has been driven by partisanship and short-sighted thinking and the result does nothing to boost access to domestic resources or strengthen America’s ability to secure energy from the global market.
Facilitating access to the vast domestic energy resources housed within our borders is one of the smartest things that lawmakers could consider as the Senate and House bills go to a conference committee for negotiations. But as they stand, the current bills would hinder the ability of domestic energy companies to reliably meet our nation’s increasing demand – translating into job losses, rising energy costs and financial hardship for the millions of Americans whose pensions are invested in U.S. oil companies.
Regrettably, this faulty legislation is rife with counterintuitive measures that will increase U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Higher taxes on the oil industry are sure to impede the technological advances that have led to recent energy finds. For instance, a record-setting find 175 miles off Louisiana’s coast in late 2006 was possible only by drilling more than 28,000 feet below the water’s surface. With no spills and no work incidents at this site – as well as a promising new source of domestic oil – the billions of dollars in reinvestments from oil companies are obviously paying off to enhance U.S. energy security.
Hampering the progress of our domestic energy producers only concedes further competitive advantages to foreign energy firms by restricting the assets that American oil companies have available to fund the financially risky exploration and development projects common to the energy industry. Energy development is investment-intensive and long-term in scope, so Congress should do all it can to see that domestic energy companies can remain competitive with the nationalized foreign firms that aggressively pursue resource-rich lands without the burden of undue taxes.
Lawmakers need to refocus their attention on the vital role reliable energy supply plays in the United States’ ability to continue any future economic growth. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 made progress toward long-term energy security, passing with bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate. Today, however, Congress seems determined to rebuke traditional energy sources in hopes that federally-mandated investments in new sources will somehow make up the difference.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that fossil fuels will continue to meet approximately 85 percent of U.S. energy demand over the next two decades. So clearly, environmentally sound development of the petroleum resources within our borders should be a logical component of any legislation intended for the President’s signature. In their present form, the short-sighted House and Senate bills would undermine our long-term energy security and national economic outlook. If lawmakers in Washington want to show real leadership, they should kill this legislation before it sees the light of day.
57th District Tennessee
Susan Lynn is the Public Sector Chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force.