RENEWABLE FUELS, CONSUMER PROTECTION, AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY ACT OF 2007 -- (Senate - December 13, 2007)
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Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I seek recognition today to give my reasons for my vote against invoking cloture on H.R. 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 which was sent to the Senate from the House of Representatives on December 6, 2007. It is regrettable that certain tactics and maneuvers prevented a formal conference and there was no accommodation for removal of controversial tax provisions which further complicated the negotiations. I am voting against cloture on energy bill, although I support many of the bill's provisions, because key commitments to at least one of my Republican colleagues were reportedly broken. Further, I understand the bill in its present form would likely draw a veto from the President.
I would have preferred a conference report which did not include taxes on the oil and gas industries. Had there been a formal conference, those taxes might well have been left out of the conference report. It has been reported that the oil and gas industries took steps to oppose convening a conference. If so, they bear some responsibility for the inclusion of the taxes which might have been eliminated had there been a conference.
This past summer, I supported the Senate-passed Energy bill, H.R. 6, which would have promoted oil savings by increasing our national average vehicle fuel economy; alleviated dependence on imported oil by increasing requirements for the use of biofuels and advanced biofuels; advanced the prospects for cleanly utilizing our Nation's abundant coal reserves by furthering research, development and demonstration of carbon capture and sequestration technology; and supported a reduction in our demand for energy by creating new efficiency benchmarks for appliances and authorizing research and development grants for more efficient building materials, processes and vehicle technology.
Furthermore, though the Senate did not include a minimum requirement for the amount of electricity generated by renewable sources, I support such a measure as I have done in the past. On June 14, 2007, the Senate voted 56-39 to table an amendment that would have replaced a 15 percent by 2020 renewable energy standard with 20 percent by 2020 using alternative sources including coal and nuclear energy. This amendment was viewed as undermining a ``renewable'' standard, therefore I opposed the amendment. I am proud that Pennsylvania is leading the way in renewable energy use and development through its Advanced Energy Portfolio Standard which requires that 18 percent of electricity in the Commonwealth be generated from clean and renewable sources by 2020.
While it would have been preferable for the House and Senate to have been able to work in a bicameral, bipartisan manner to produce legislation that includes both stronger automobile efficiency and a renewable portfolio standard, that clearly did not happen in this instance. Therefore, I face a choice between procedural matters I dislike and policies I support. Many of my colleagues and I will oppose this bill based on the process used by the majority and the inclusion of controversial tax offset provisions. Had there been an opportunity for the two Houses and the two parties to come together, as is the common practice in Congress, to craft this important legislation governing our Nation's energy production and use, I am confident we could have come to consensus on these issues and I still believe this to be the case.
This Nation has many challenges meeting today's energy needs, with the price of oil at $100 per barrel, OPEC manipulating the oil markets, and concerns related to the environment including climate change, all of which will be directly addressed by this bill's provisions. Too often in this Congress, we are faced with questionable procedures which have led to this situation of rancor and breakdown of the bicameral process. I urge the leaders of both parties and chambers to work together to improve this regrettable legislative environment and produce a bipartisan Energy bill.
Considering the current veto threat over the bill, it is my hope that after this difficult vote we can amicably move forward to work with our colleagues in the House of Representatives and the President to enact these policy measures which are important for the energy future of the United States.
As I stated in my introduction, I am troubled by reports from a Republican colleague that the legislation sent over by the House breached key commitments. It is difficult to know exactly what commitments were made, which were kept, and which may have been broken in multiple conversations with many parties. Therefore, in the interest of comity and improving the legislative process, I feel constrained to cast my vote against moving to this Energy bill, despite provisions I support.
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