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Sununu Joins Bipartisan Effort to Lift Ban on Offshore Drilling

Press Release

Location: Manchester, NH


United States Senator John Sununu (R-NH) today (8/26) joined the bipartisan effort to lift the ban on offshore drilling by formally announcing his support for the "New Energy Reform Act of 2008." The comprehensive legislative proposal unveiled by a bipartisan coalition of Senators would lift the ban on offshore energy exploration across the Gulf of Mexico and off the Mid-Atlantic states, promote new technologies and conservation, require that oil companies pay fair market prices for oil leases and drilling rights, and promote further development of nuclear power.

"Families across New Hampshire are feeling the pressure of record energy prices," said Sununu. "This is a strong bipartisan initiative to create a balanced energy policy including better conservation, incentives for alternative energy, and more production here in America. We need to lift the ban on offshore drilling across the Gulf of Mexico and the Mid-Atlantic states, encourage conservation and energy efficiency to reduce demand, and invest in renewable energy technology. Here in New Hampshire, for example, we have a great sustainable forestry industry that can support a growing demand for efficient wood burning systems. That's good for our economy, and it reduces demand for energy imports."

Sununu endorsed provisions of the bipartisan "New Energy Reform Act of 2008" on August 2 and today (8/26) formally joined the group of bipartisan Members supporting the proposal. That coalition, led by Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) includes: John Thune (R-SD), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR.), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Bob Corker (R-TN.), Mark Pryor (D-AR.), and Ben Nelson (D-NE). Joining the group with Sununu on Tuesday are: John Warner, (R-VA), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Tom Carper (D-DE), Tim Johnson (D-SD), and Ken Salazar (D-CO).

Senator Chambliss said, "We felt confident when we formed this bipartisan group that we'd quickly receive support from our colleagues. I am so pleased to have Senator Sununu as a member of our bipartisan effort. He indeed understands that Congress needs to take action immediately so that people in New Hampshire and all across this country will have the relief they deserve from high energy costs. We look forward to his leadership and input as we move forward. With Senator Sununu as a member of our group, the people of New Hampshire can be certain they have a seat at the table as we move forward in addressing the current energy crisis."

Senator Conrad said, "This is good news. We all feel a sense of urgency to help ease fuel prices in the short term while addressing our long term needs. This comprehensive, bipartisan framework is now backed by 16 Members of the Senate because it puts every option on the table."

Key proposals of the New Energy Reform Act would:

• Lift the Ban on Offshore Drilling: The ban on offshore energy production will be lifted across the entire Gulf of Mexico as well as off the coast of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. States would be given the opportunity to approve production and participate in royalties generated.

• Extend Tax Credits for Renewable Energy: The proposal extends tax credits in a number of areas including renewable energy and energy conservation. The plan includes the extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for the generation of electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind, biomass, and geothermal. The bill also includes Sununu's provision to provide a 10 percent tax credit for the purchase of energy-efficient wood pellet stoves.

• Eliminate tax breaks for oil companies: the proposal repeals several tax breaks and incentives for oil companies. Companies will also be required to make royalty payments on existing leases written during the Clinton administration which failed to include proper royalty rates. These revenues would be invested in alternative energy technology.

• Encourage Use of Nuclear Power: The proposal supports research and development on spent fuel recycling and accelerates the depreciation for nuclear plants.

• Provide weatherization assistance: New funding of $500 million per year is included for the weatherization assistance program.

Senator Sununu continues to support additional components of a balanced energy policy:

• On December 13, 2007, Sununu supported Senate passage of the 2007 bi-partisan Energy Bill, which increased fuel economy standards for the first time in 32 years and encouraged investment in renewable energy technology. Under the bill, the average mileage standards will increase to 35 miles per gallon by 2020.

• Sununu is a cosponsor of the "Clean Energy Tax Stimulus Act" that extends clean energy production tax credits and incentives to improve the energy efficiency of new and existing homes, businesses and appliances. The legislation included Sununu's provision to provide a 10 percent tax credit for the purchase of energy-efficient wood pellet stoves and passed the Senate by a vote of 88 to 8 on April 10, 2008.

• Sununu is co-sponsor of the "Gasoline Price Reduction Act of 2008" which would allow additional deep-sea energy exploration and Western oil shale production. The bill also encourages development of plug-in electric cars and trucks and strengthens oversight of the energy futures market.

• On June 24, 2008, Sununu cosponsored Senator Bernie Sanders' "Warm in Winter and Cool in Summer Act" to provide an additional $2.53 billion to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Additionally, on July 17, 2008, he cosponsored Senator Judd Gregg's "Home Energy Assistance Today Act" to provide an additional $2.5 billion for LIHEAP and double LIHEAP funding for seniors and low income families in New Hampshire. On July 24, 2008, he cosponsored Senator Judd Gregg's "Weatherization, Assistance, and Relief for Middle-Income Households Act of 2008" (WARM Act) to double LIHEAP funding and provide weatherization funding and a heating oil tax credit for middle income households.

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