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06/17/2009

Senate Energy Bill Passes Committee

Today the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee reported out the "American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009."  The energy bill, despite some good aspects, was severely compromised during its long slog through committee markup.  The final product is extremely deficient when it comes to repowering our country with renewable energy, clean energy jobs, and the fight against global warming.  Nowhere is this more apparent than the aggresive offshore drilling program that the bill authorizes.

Offshorerig3

As laid out in my last post, the offshore drilling amendment was introduced by Senator Dorgan (D-ND) and would allow drilling as close as 45 miles to all of Florida's gulf shores.  This region is one of the few remaining coastal areas that still retains protections from the oil and gas industry, protections that are meant to be in place until at least 2022.  The amendment also authorizes special permissions to drill in an area known as Destin Dome, a mere 26 miles from shore.  The one silver lining to this situation, however faint the consolation, is that the amendment does not include any revenue-sharing provisions for the states.

The Sierra Club has already stated its opposition to the bill in its current form and our hope now is to strengthen the bill when it comes to the Senate floor later this year.  Congress has a historic opportunity looking them in the face.  This legislation, moving parallel to the climate and energy bill about to be voted on in the House floor, is potentially the most important energy legislation any of us will experience in our lifetime.  Our lawmakers are at a crossroads where they can either follow the administration and help lead the world into a new energy economy.  Or they can stumble and fall into the trap of business-as-usual.  The Senate just stumbled.  We must make certain they don't fall.

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