U.S. House of Representatives Passes Responsible, Bipartisan Energy Policy Act
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Walden-backed provisions in the Energy Policy Act would reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, encourage cleaner forms of power; regional benefits from BPA preserved
WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, a comprehensive bill addressing the America's national energy policy in an effort to reduce dependence on foreign oil, encourage the development and use of renewable energy, and stimulate job creation and economic growth. Additionally, with the support of U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR), vice-chairman of the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus and co-chairman of the Northwest Energy Caucus, the bill preserves regional energy benefits provided to the Northwest by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). Walden joined with colleagues from both sides of the aisle to pass the Act, H.R. 6.
"With the increasing demand for oil around the world and the rising costs in Oregon and throughout the nation, we must focus on the development of alternate energy sources, especially those that are clean, efficient and renewable such as solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and fuel cells," said Walden a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Resources, two of the three committees which had jurisdiction over the Act.
"For years the Northwest has been reaping the benefits of low-cost, renewable hydropower and I have been a proud advocate for the preservation of these benefits while in the Congress," Walden continued. "Additionally, Oregon and the Northwest have pioneering companies leading the way in environmentally friendly energy technology. Whether fuel cell system development in central Oregon, wind power generation along the Columbia Gorge, or geothermal energy in southern Oregon, investing in new energy sources makes America more energy independent while creating good paying, environmentally friendly jobs."
To help meet the nation's energy needs, The Energy Policy Act of 2005:
Includes financial incentives for companies, like those already at-work in Oregon, to produce energy from renewable and alternative fuels such as wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and fuel cells;
Authorizes more than $2 billion for a program to get hydrogen fuel-cell cars into the market by 2020 and $100 million for increased hydropower production through increasing efficiency at existing dams such as Bonneville;
Expands the Energy Star program, a government-industry partnership for the promotion of energy-efficient products, and establishes new energy efficiency standards for many commercial and consumer products that use large amounts of energy, providing consumers with monthly energy savings and reducing the overall amount of electricity consumed;
Increases funding for the Department of Energy's "Clean Cities" program, which encourages state and local governments to acquire alternative-fuel, fuel-cell and hybrid vehicles, and establishes two new programs providing grants for school districts to retrofit existing vehicles and purchase new vehicles that would run on cleaner fuel;
Contains a requirement to add ethanol and other renewable-based fuel to the nation's gasoline supply reducing our need for crude oil;
Requires greater energy conservation by establishing new mandatory efficiency requirements for federal buildings, including the installation of solar energy systems in 20,000 federal buildings by 2010;
Decreases America's dangerous dependence on foreign oil by increasing domestic oil and gas exploration and development on non-park federal lands and by authorizing expansion of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve's capacity to 1 billion barrels;
And increases funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), established by Congress in 1981 to provide assistance to low-income households to help cover energy costs and avoid the dangers of hypothermia and heat stroke posed to senior citizens and children exposed to extreme temperatures. LIHEAP provisions in the Act also allow program participants to purchase renewable fuels, encouraging the consumption of cleaner, less-expensive forms of energy, while helping reduce the nation's oil dependency.
The Act also creates hundreds of thousands of jobs in the construction, research and operation of programs focused on renewable energy sources, coal, natural gas and nuclear energy.
Additionally, Walden and other leaders of the bipartisan Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus have written to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) and Ranking Member Charles Rangel (D-NY) expressing the caucus' support for the extension of current renewable energy production tax credits (PTC). Current PTCs, incentives for businesses to develop alternative forms of energy, are set to expire at the end of this calendar year. The Caucus believes that these credits should be extended for at least three years, giving companies an opportunity to develop comprehensive plans.
As the letter states, "Clean power production provides greater reliability for our electricity system, promotes cleaner air and water, benefits our land and economy, and helps ensure our national security."
As chairman of the House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, Walden also wrote to Chairman Thomas individually, reiterating his support for renewable development tax credits focusing especially on biomass. Biomass used to create renewable energy has a distinct relationship to work being conducted under the authority of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA), which Walden coauthored and was signed into law in 2003. The Act provides for, among other things, the expedited removal of hazardous fuels on federal lands to prevent catastrophic wildfires and protect communities, watersheds, and wildlife.
Walden wrote, "The removal of these fuels, small diameter trees and woody debris, is expensive. Fortunately, this woody biomass has many possible uses, including energy production, which have the potential to offset the cost of removal." The letter goes on to request that tax credits for biomass energy facilities be included in this year's energy bill, encouraging businesses to continue the development of biomass energy production that will ultimately help reduce our consumption of non-renewable forms of energy while also reducing the cost of hazardous fuels reduction and the burden on U.S. taxpayers.