Energy Panel Leader Expects Push for Production of More U.S. Oil
Byline: Joseph Weber, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said Monday that the crisis in oil markets sparked by Egypt's political unrest should not divert Congress from pursuing long-term strategies to develop more clean and renewable energy resources.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico Democrat, predicted that the latest Middle East crisis will amplify calls on Capitol Hill to expand U.S. oil production as a way to ease dependence on unstable foreign suppliers.
Congress usually gets very interested in these circumstances, he said. I'm sure there will be calls for us to ramp up production .. but that would occur over a substantial period of time
Mr. Bingaman said his agenda for the new Congress will instead focus on a four-part plan that includes tax incentives and developing markets for renewable- energy companies in the U.S.
President Obama came to office with an ambitious plan to rewrite U.S. energy policy and address the question of climate change and global warming. But his cap-and-trade plan to curb U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions died in the last Congress, and big GOP gains in the midterm elections have cast a major cloud over energy policy going forward.
Mr. Obama since taking office has made clear his desire to boost renewable-energy sources, including wind power, solar power and biofuels for vehicles. He referred to energy-related issues nine times last week in his State of the Union address. And the president has increasingly touted economic and employment spinoffs of green jobs.
But the alternative-fuel industry has faced a series of challenges, including financing, uncertainty over the future of tax incentives and finding customers, including conventional power companies, to purchase its energy. Mr. Bingaman said the country's inconsistent approach has left U.S. producers at a competitive disadvantage.
Our on-again, off-again tax credits are no match for [overseas] competitors, he said. …