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Green bill to expand drilling, alternative energy passes House

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Gene Green’s (D-Houston) legislation to increase domestic energy supplies through expanded offshore drilling and investment in renewable energy and conservation won approval in the U.S. House of Representatives today by a vote of 236-189.

“We can no longer afford to play politics while Americans struggle to heat and cool their homes, fill their gas tanks, or lose good-paying jobs due to high energy costs,” Green said. “Our comprehensive bill will provide our nation with the conventional and renewable energy we need to fuel our economy and develop the clean energy technologies of tomorrow.”

Green said his legislation, also sponsored by Natural Resources Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W. Va.) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), would allow oil and gas drilling in federal waters more than 100 miles off the coast and provide for drilling between 50-100 miles off the coast at the discretion of individual states.

He said the bill will also: lower energy costs for consumers by releasing oil from the Strategic Classes resume at Aldine, North Forest schools Petroleum Reserve (SPR); increase research, development, and deployment of clean renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies; and invest in critical programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), public transportation, and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) research.

“This legislation allows us to utilize our own domestic oil and natural gas resources and reduce our dependence on foreign countries for energy,” Green said. “America’s energy security demands an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy policy, and I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to enact our legislation into law.”

Select provisions:

* Releases oil from the SPR. Rep. Nick Lampson (D-Stafford) originally introduced this provision as H.R. 6578, which passed the House in July. It would exchange nearly 10 percent of the SPR’s reserve for heavier, cheaper crude oil. This would put more high-quality oil on the market, reducing prices.

* Establishes renewable energy tax credits. Similar to bipartisan bills H.R. 5351 and H.R. 6049 passed by the House earlier this year. The bill includes $18 billion in tax cuts to encourage green technology development and energy independence.

* Creates a Strategic Energy Efficiency and Renewables Reserve. This was passed by the House as part of H.R. 6 in January. It creates a reserve to pay for subsequent legislation that accelerates renewable and alternative fuel development and use, promotes energy-efficient products, and promotes weatherization and utility assistance. The funds would come from drilling lease royalties.

* Allows drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf. Oil and gas leasing off federal waters would be allowed beginning 100 miles off the coast. Individual states would decide whether to allow drilling from 50-100 miles off their respective coasts. Drilling would not be allowed within 50 miles of the coast. National marine monuments and marine sanctuaries will be protected from leasing. National defense areas will be excluded from leasing. The GOMESA law on leasing and moratorium areas in the eastern Gulf of Mexico would be unchanged.

* Incentivizes natural gas vehicles. The bill sets a goal of increasing use of new natural gas powered vehicle. It includes tax incentives such as doubling a tax credit for homeowners who install natural gas refueling equipment.

* Strengthens energy efficiency codes for buildings. This passed the House as H.R. 3221. It calls on the Energy Department to update codes so that new residential and commercial buildings will be at least 30 percent more efficient by 2010 and 50 more efficient by 2020. This could save consumers $210 billion in energy bills through 2030.

* Creates incentives for energy efficient homes. This provision comes from H.R. 6078. It provides incentives for lenders to give lower interest rates to consumers who build, buy or remodel homes to increase energy efficiency.

* Invests in public transportation. The bill includes the Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act, which passed the House as H.R. 6052. It would expand service and reduce transit fares for commuter rail and buses by providing $1.7 billion in grants to transit agencies over the next two years which could benefit Houston METRO.