WASHINGTON – First District Congressman Paul Ryan today voted against companion energy bills (H.R. 3221 and H.R. 2776) that ignore – and even in some cases restrict access to – many domestic fuel resources that exist in abundance in the U.S. and chart a path that is likely to end up hurting American consumers. These bills passed the House and were merged together before proceeding to the Senate.
The legislation creates dozens of new, often duplicative government programs – spending billions of taxpayer dollars on a hodgepodge of top-down, government-directed initiatives that pick winners and losers in the energy marketplace with little consideration for free-market forces. In addition, one of the bills includes $15 billion of energy tax increases over ten years, imposed on America’s oil and gas industry, which will almost surely be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.
Ryan supported some aspects of the energy legislation, most notably the amendment offered by Rep. Tom Udall (D-NM) that requires electric suppliers, other than rural electric cooperatives and governmental entities, to provide 15 percent of their electricity using renewable energy resources by the year 2020. It allows four percent of the requirement to be satisfied with electricity efficiency measures. This policy builds on Wisconsin’s leadership in this area. The state already has its own requirement in place to prompt greater reliance on renewables to generate electricity – requiring 10 percent of electricity to come from renewable energy resources by 2011.
While Ryan voted in favor of this amendment – which passed – he did not support the larger legislation, which creates many opportunities for government waste and abuse and would lead to less domestic oil and gas production – increasing our reliance on foreign energy sources.
“In a summer of skyrocketing gas prices, Congress shouldn’t be discouraging domestic oil and gas production. Over the short term, we can lower energy costs by using clean drilling technologies to tap into more of our domestic fuel sources, clearing the way for new refineries to be built, and streamlining fuel regulations to improve our fuel supply. Unfortunately, the bill the House passed today doesn’t take these steps and will make us more dependent on foreign oil, not less. At the same time, we need to develop our renewable energy sources, so we can kick the fossil fuel habit and enjoy clean and plentiful energy produced here at home. This legislation makes some progress on renewables, but overall it takes the wrong approach – relying mainly on big government programs that squander taxpayer dollars and expand the federal bureaucracy,” Ryan said.
Just a few of the misguided policies included in this mammoth legislation are as follows:
It prohibits surface occupancy of leases issued for federal minerals in the Roan Plateau, Colorado, essentially cutting off production from a large, clean natural gas field in Colorado. Some estimate that this provision would prevent access to 4.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
It amends existing law to establish a slower approach to a commercial leasing program for oil shale and tar sands resources on public lands – running the risk of driving investors overseas and costing manufacturing jobs. (Of the 2 trillion barrels of oil shale in the U.S., about 80 percent are on federal lands.) Estimates are that the U.S. oil shale reserves hold enough energy to supply all of our nation’s oil needs for 228 years.
It creates a new agency – and accompanying multibillion-dollar fund in the U.S. Treasury – to support the development of energy technologies (much of which the federal government is already doing).
It authorizes $1 billion over five years for clean and efficient energy technologies in other countries.
It allows individuals to sue the federal government for damages (of up to $1.5 million per year) caused by global warming.
It creates a $6 billion slush fund for green pork projects, financed by a new class of bonds (tax credit bonds) that is particularly costly and inefficient. Furthermore, there’s no guarantee that the proceeds from these bonds will be spent on worthwhile projects. For example, the money could be spent on hybrid snowmobiles for ski resorts or for a Wal-Mart building with a handful of solar panels.