No Energy Bill Yet
By: Bill Reid
The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Conference Report to accompany H.R. 6, the “Energy Policy Act of 2003” by a vote of 246 to 180.
The U.S. Senate fell two votes short of the sixty needed to shut off debate and vote on the National Energy Policy Act.
Most Senate democrats and some republicans, primarily from northeastern states, opposed the legislation. Senate GOP leadership was unable to muster the sixty votes needed to stop debate and bring the Bill up for a vote. The Senate particularly objected to language in the bill prohibiting suits against manufacturers of gasoline additive MTPE.
A summary of the coal provisions of the conference report prepared by the National Mining Association at the request of congressional allies for use in explaining the report indicated:
• The proposal would authorize $1.8 billion ($200 million from 2004 to 2012) for the Clean Coal Power Initiative. All projects are funded on a 50/50 cost share basis with the private sector; must meet efficiency, environmental performance, and cost criteria to be developed by the Secretary of Energy; and must insure that technologies funded will be well advanced of technology currently in commercial use. At least 60% of the funds will be for coal gasification projects.
• The proposal would authorize $1.422 billion over five years under the Department of Energy’s research and development budget to facilitate production and generation of coal based power systems, including advanced combustion systems and carbon sequestration.
• The proposal would authorize $2 billion for a new CACP to assist with the installation of pollution control equipment and new technology through federal grants, loans and loan guarantees on a 50-50 cost share basis with the private sector.
• The tax title contains $2.5 billion in clean coal technology and related incentives, including a 15% investment tax credit for installation of advanced technology and existing units, a 17.5% investment tax credit for installation of such technology on new units (plus a five year depreciation for IGCC); and accelerated depreciation for pollution control equipment (loan from five years under current law to three years for units that went into operation before 1/1/76 and from 20 years to 5 years for post 1/1/76 units.).
These provisions will bring new technologies into commercial operation and assist power generators in meeting current and future environmental requirements.
The National Mining Association President and CEO Jack N. Gerard said, “This morning the will of the many was thwarted by the few who squandered a rare opportunity to do tremendous good for American consumers and working men and women across this country.” Gerard continued, “Despite the narrow failure to obtain a vote, the U.S. mining industry is very encouraged by strong bi-partisan support shown by both houses of Congress for an energy bill that will diversify the nation’s energy sources, provide American consumers with affordable and reliable electricity, put many Americans in the manufacturing sector back to work, and continue progress in reducing emissions through landmark support for research and development and financial incentives for deployment of clean coal technology.”
“We believe that as the debate over the nation’s energy security continues, the persistent misconceptions about the energy bill will be dispelled and its overwhelmingly positive features fully recognized and appreciated,” Gerard said. “Our industry will continue to work with those in Congress committed to strengthening the nation’s economy and continuing our progress toward increasingly clean coal technology through reform of our energy policies. Failure in this critical objective is not an option. I believe the bill has another good day ahead of it and deservingly so,” said Gerard. cl
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