Muckraker: Grist on Politics

A bipartisan group of House members has unveiled a new compromise energy bill, roughly along the lines of the Gang of 10 bill released in the Senate last week.

“The National Conservation, Environment, and Energy Independence Act” would repeal federal prohibitions on offshore oil and gas production and lift the ban on finalizing regulations for oil-shale development. Some of the proceeds from offshore leasing would be spent on environmental programs: 15 percent on renewable energy, 10 percent on environmental restoration, 8 percent on the Conservation Reserve Program, and 5 percent on R&D for carbon capture and storage and nuclear-waste disposal.

The bill also includes a five-year extension of tax credits for renewable energy and energy efficiency. These tax extensions have passed repeatedly in the House, but they keep getting held up in the Senate where Republicans have blocked energy bills that don’t include more drilling.

The new legislation also calls for 70 million barrels of light crude to be sold from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, with proceeds to be used for a variety of energy projects: $200 million for low-income weatherization and the home energy assistance program, $30 million for smart-grid development, $30 million for solar-energy research, $15 million for wind-energy research, and multi-millions more for a number of other renewable energy and efficiency projects. The real bank goes to carbon capture and storage R&D, which would get $385 million.

The bill comes from members of the House Bipartisan Energy Working Group, led by Reps. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) and John Peterson (R-Penn.). There are currently 119 cosponsors.