Senator Reid Introduces Limited Energy Bill

Joanna Schroeder

With the climate bill in flux in the Senate, there are new concerns surfacing that climate legislation is dead in the water, stalling political efforts to revive the economy though the development of clean tech jobs. In response, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) responded last week by proposing a new piece of limited energy legislation that would limit offshore drilling, raise the liability caps for oil companies and support the growth of green jobs. The green jobs would come as a result of energy efficiency measures but the bill does not appear to support a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES).

Reid has been attempting to get some sort of jobs bill passed for months. Earlier this year, he presented an Unemployment Jobs Extension Bill that included a one-year extension of the biodiesel tax credit. Reid stripped the biodiesel tax credit from the bill and ultimately, the bill did not pass.

The apparent tie-in of the oil spill and energy bill is that many gulf oil workers are out of work. Reid believes that an energy bill will help put people around the country back to work. The Department of Energy estimates that if a 20 percent renewable electricity standard were put into place, 3,000-4,000 new jobs would be created in most states. Yet supporters of clean jobs are arguing that these clean jobs are not being created fast enough and an energy bill with an RES could be the ticket, although it doesn’t appear Reid’s bill be the ticket needed for admission.

But on the flip side, the oil and gas industry is fighting this bill tooth and nail saying that green jobs will not make up for the large number of displaced oil and gas workers. Offshore drilling needs to continue.

Today, the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance (DEPA), comprised of oil and natural gas producers and their partners, is “sounding the alarm” and claiming that Reid’s bill is putting important tax preferences that are “critical to the survival of America’s oil and natural gas producers” at risk. They also cite that the result of decreased drilling will result in higher oil and natural gas prices for the American consumer. They also claim that this bill will increase America’s dependence on foreign energy sources.

“If the Senate needs funding for the proposed green-job initiatives, we encourage them to look for other funding sources other than the tax preferences that are vital to the survival of our nation’s domestic, on-shore, Independent oil and natural gas producers, who drill almost all of the new wells in the United States,” said Mike Cantrell, President of DEPA. “This funding option is not in the best interest of our nation, its people, or its energy producers.”

In the past several months alone, renewable energy opponents have thrown so many red herrings and lawsuits into the mix that any forward movement of the renewable energy industry is sluggish at best. This leads me to believe that more than likely, the only group that needs to continue worrying about job security remains the renewable energy industry.

Electricity, Energy, Legislation, Opinion, politics