The Making of Energy and Telecommunications Policy

By Georgia A. Persons | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Policy Responses by Congressional Action

A NEW CONTEXT FOR A CONTINUING DEBATE

In 1977, the entire discourse on energy-related issues was altered again by the initiatives of President Jimmy Carter's administration. The Carter administration sought to formally institutionalize a broad-based, comprehensive policy response to the nation's energy needs. Administration and congressional policymakers were pushed in the direction of examination and overhaul of the nation's entire energy policy apparatus. As a result, a national energy policy was developed and proposed in legislation which entailed a reorganization of all administrative, regulatory, and research and development efforts in the area of energy. The new administrative and regulatory thrust was designed to maximize economic efficiency and to encourage the use of energy sources in a more rational and efficient manner. As part of an integrated approach to energy planning, a vastly new and ambitious research and development effort was envisioned to expand the domestic energy production base through the development, testing, and deployment of an array of new and undertitilized energy technologies, such as passive and active solar energy, geothermal energy, wind energy, biomass, and coal gasification and liquefaction. Energy conservation was to be practiced so aggressively that it would equal the energy contribution of a new source of fuel. With emphasis on more progressive regulation and end-use energy conservation, the issue of utility rate and regulatory reform came to be incorporated into the Carter administration's policy initiative.

The Carter National Energy Policy was introduced in the House as H.R. 6831 and in the Senate as S. 1469. Part E, Title I of the House bill addressed the issue of utility reform. However, the Carter proposal in this area was not an original effort. Instead, it built on the extensive work in this area which had been done by the Dingell Committee and its work, as discussed in Chapter 3. A key staffer, Robert Nordhaus (who had worked for the House Subcommittee on

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