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Letter to Hon. Senator Robert C. Byrd, Chairman, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate


Letter to Hon. Senator Robert C. Byrd, Chairman, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate

Washington, DC, July 22, 2008.
Hon. Senator Robert C. Byrd,
Chairman, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate.

CHAIRMAN BYRD: We are profoundly disappointed by the cancellation of this week's scheduled markup of the Fiscal Year 2009 Interior and Legislative Branch appropriations bills, and the second supplemental appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2008. It is readily apparent that the markup was canceled entirely due to the majority's unwillingness to consider and vote on amendments relating to domestic energy production.

The enactment of appropriations bills in recent years has often involved departures

[Page: S7844]

from the regular order. Our Committee, however, has a proud tradition of successfully conducting that part of the appropriations process that is under our direct control, i.e. the timely consideration and markup of appropriations bills. You have been steadfast this year in insisting that the Committee continue in this fashion, for which we applaud you. We are therefore surprised at today's turn of events.

Energy prices are an issue of singular importance to people across the country. The American people are looking to their elected representatives in Congress to offer bold new policies that will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil by developing more domestic energy resources, and by reducing the amount of energy we consume. We must act on all fronts. The solution to our current problems will not come from any single policy, or from any single committee. The Committee on Appropriations, however, has an important role to play.

The Fiscal Year 2008 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act contained provisions that prohibit the production of oil and gas from large portions of the Outer Continental Shelf, and that prohibit the issuance of regulations that are necessary for the responsible development of America's vast oil shale resources in the Rocky Mountain west. It is likely that the chairman's mark of the Fiscal Year 2009 Interior bill would have contained one or both of these provisions. As such, it would have been timely and entirely appropriate for the Committee to meet to consider the merits of continuing these provisions in Fiscal Year 2009, and to consider whether the provisions should be modified or repealed in Fiscal Year 2008. Members of the Committee might well have other energy-related amendments that they wish to be considered.

We urge you to reconsider your decision so that the Committee can meet its responsibility to consider all of the appropriations bills, and also do its part to help address the energy challenges that face our country.

Sincerely,

Ted Stevens; Thad Cochran; Arlen Specter; Pete V. Domenici; Mitch McConnell; Judd Gregg; Robert F. Bennett; Richard C. Shelby; Larry E. Craig; Christopher S. Bond; Kay Bailey Hutchison; Sam Brownback; Wayne Allard; Lamar Alexander.


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