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Senate preps for energy duel

July 28, 2010
Battle lines are being drawn in the U.S. Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democratic leaders unveiled its energy bill.

Senate Democrats announced last week they will delay work on a climate change bill to work on a scaled down energy bill that would focus on provisions to regulate offshore drilling in response to the Deepwater Horizon accident and incentives for natural gas vehicles.

Also included in the bill, however, is language requiring energy companies to disclose the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing.

From The Hill:

The Dems: Reid and Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) are holding a press conference late Wednesday morning to flak the bill, where they’ll be joined by the Home Star Coalition that backs home energy retrofit measures, and the Pew Environment Group.

The GOP: Several Senate Republicans hold their own press conference Wednesday where they’ll attack some elements of the Dems’ plan and tout their alternative bill circulated late last week. Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) – the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee – and other senators will be there.     

The Senate bill is a rather narrow set of energy provisions because Reid dumped a larger climate and energy package last week, citing the absence of 60 votes.     

The electric car provisions drew cheers Tuesday from the Electrification Coalition, while the Alliance to Save Energy applauded the Home Star program that provides consumer rebates for efficiency overhauls, claiming it will create 168,000 jobs over two years.     

But giant ethanol producer Poet called the lack of ethanol incentives a “missed opportunity” in a statement Tuesday. And the environmental group Earthworks is worried about the push for more use of natural gas.      

“Earthworks is stunned to see the one-sided nature of the Senate energy proposal, released today, which increases incentives for natural gas production without addressing the impacts of natural gas on communities and water supplies across the country,” the group said Tuesday.     

The American Petroleum Institute – the oil industry’s most powerful trade group – bashed provisions that remove the cap on companies’ liability for damages from offshore spills.    

 “Requiring an unattainable level of insurance coverage for domestic energy producers on the Outer Continental Shelf will force the vast majority of American companies out of U.S. waters, according to insurers. This would cut domestic production, kill American jobs, slow economic growth and cost billions in federal oil and natural gas revenues,” the group said Tuesday.

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