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House Renewable Energy Bill Fails Basic Pop Quiz


Location: Washington, DC

House Renewable Energy Bill Fails Basic Pop Quiz
By Denny Rehberg

Quick pop quiz. In order to help America achieve energy independence, should Congress: A) promote renewable energy sources, B) encourage energy conservation, C) develop America's domestic fossil fuel resources, D) provide grants and loans to develop new technology, or E) all of the above.

This is exactly the same question I was faced with last month. My guess is that most of you chose "E" and agree that all options should be on the table in order for us to end our dependence on foreign oil. That's my choice too.

In late February, the House passed legislation to extend the renewable energy production tax credit. I voted against the bill. This credit provides a tax break for wind, solar, and other alternative energy sources as well as for energy conservation. Sounds good, right? Well, not when these credits were paid for by increased taxes on Montana's energy production and would result in higher prices at the gas pump.

In 2005, when I helped craft the Energy Policy Act, we provided incentives, as well as other tools, to ensure increased development of energy through coal, oil, gas, cellulosic ethanol, wind, and other sources, while at the same time promoting conservation and the development of new technologies. This was a strong framework for future energy proposals and we should continue to give it time to work as these are all critical parts of the answer "E" approach.

However, the House Democrat bill removed one of the cornerstones of this comprehensive energy plan by increasing taxes on domestic fossil fuels development. These resources, such as coal, oil, and gas, are critical in the near future as they are the most abundant and ready-to-use energy option available. By taxing this important source of energy, we're preventing Montana energy producers from putting the necessary technology in place to use this resource to fuel our pickups and tractors.

I fully support providing incentives for wind energy and I fully support the renewable energy production tax credit. In Montana, we have the opportunity to play a key role in future energy development through alternatives such as wind, cellulosic ethanol, and biomass. These tax credits and other incentives are crucial for alternative energy development.

I'm also a member of the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus and a cosponsor of 25 x '25 which means that by the year 2025, America's agricultural, forestry, and working lands will provide 25% of the total energy consumed in the U.S. from renewable sources.

Again, if we're going to solve our energy problems and create a secure energy future then all options must be on the table. It's time we all set our sights on building the "E" answer.

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