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September 17th, 2008
Grijalva Supports Comprehensive Energy Bill

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Raúl M. Grijalva supported the passage of a landmark comprehensive energy package that passed the House of Representatives this week.

The Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act (H.R 6899) will lower costs for consumers, expand our domestic energy supply, crack down on ethical lapses at Interior Department, and invest in renewable and alternative energy. The bill also takes important steps to roll back tax breaks for Big Oil in a time of record oil company profits and require oil companies to pay outstanding royalties owed to taxpayers.

The bill would launch a clean renewable energy future that invests in renewable and alternative energy sources that will create millions of jobs, expands and extends tax incentives for renewable electricity, energy (such solar and wind) and fuel from America’s heartland, as well as for plug-in hybrid cars, and energy efficient homes, buildings, and appliances. The bill will require utility companies to generate 15 percent of electricity from renewable sources — such as wind power, biomass, wave, tidal, geothermal and solar — by 2020, which will save consumers $13-18 billion cumulatively by 2020 and reduce dangerous global warming emissions.

“This bill addresses our serious energy situation,” said Grijalva. “It will lower the cost to consumers, create jobs and promote greater energy efficiency for homes and businesses. It is also our duty to the American people to protect our interests and demand that the American taxpayer gets a fair return. We must ensure America’s transition to a stronger, more reliable domestic energy future needed for the 21st century.”

The bill also provides $1.7 billion in funding for transit authorities across the country to reduce transit fares for commuter rail and buses and expand service. The average commuter can save up to $8,000 a year riding public transit.

“We need to make sure that transit fares stay affordable so people have a safe and reasonable alternative to driving when gas prices are at record highs. This would lower our dependence on oil for fuel and also lower pollution in our cities and towns,” said Grijalva.

The legislation would also prohibit companies who hold royalty-free 1998-99 leases unless they agree to renegotiate those leases to include royalties. These lost revenues, estimated at upwards of $6 billion, would be used to establish a fund, known as the Strategic Energy Efficiency and Renewable Reserve. This fund will promote renewable energy resources and alternative fuels, promote new energy technologies such as carbon capture and sequestration, improve energy efficiency and conservation, and provide home heating assistance to low income families under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

The bill would also address the revelations unveiled this week by government regulators involving Interior Department employees of the Royalty-in-Kind Program. Last week, it was revealed that illegal and unethical activities taking place in the Royalty-in-Kind program within the Minerals Management Service, a federal agency charged with collecting millions of dollars in royalties each year on behalf of taxpayers. This agency has been literally caught in bed with the industry it is supposed to be watch dogging.

These provisions would:

•Allow royalties to be taken “in kind” only if the Interior Secretary determines that doing so is consistent with the fiduciary responsibilities of the federal government on behalf of the American people.

•Advance ethics reform within the office of the Royalty-in-Kind program, including the establishment of fines and penalties for ethical lapses, a permanent ban on gifts, a code of ethics, and random drug testing to employees of the federal royalty program.

•Require that federal oil and gas lessees make prompt, transparent, and accurate royalty payments.

“We need to take a hard look at the way we regulate this industry, to make sure that the taxpayer is getting a fair deal for the extraction of our natural resources and this legislation is one step in righting the wrong-doings at the Minerals Management Service. Overall, the bill is a comprehensive measure that will greatly boost our country’s investment in renewable energy, which we must focus on in order to move into a future where we are no longer utterly dependent on fossil and non-renewable fuels. In the meantime, the bill allows for continued oil and gas exploration while requiring safeguards and protection of our environment under existing laws,” said Grijalva.

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