Energy Policy Act of 2002 (S. 517)
To Members of the United States Senate:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce believes that energy policy legislation is necessary because America is rapidly outstripping our ability to develop and deliver the diverse energy supplies our nation needs. Comprehensive energy policy legislation will reduce America's dependence on foreign energy, create jobs, and stimulate economic growth. The U.S. Chamber believes energy policy legislation must encourage:
- Conservation of existing energy resources;
- Environmentally-compatible exploration for new domestic energy supplies;
- Research to develop and expand alternative and renewable energy resources;
- Investment in infrastructure necessary to transmit and transport energy; and
- Measures to ensure energy resources remain affordable and reliable.
The U.S. Chamber believes S. 517, the Energy Policy Act of 2002, is a good framework for developing comprehensive energy policy legislation. However, the U.S. Chamber has significant concerns with various provisions of S. 517 and amendments that may be offered. Some of these concerns are set forth below:
- The U.S. Chamber strongly supports increasing domestic energy supplies, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). An amendment to S. 517 is expected to be offered to open ANWR to oil exploration. This amendment is a necessary supplement the nation's steadily declining domestic oil production, and it will reduce dependence on oil imports and create new jobs for Americans.
- The U.S. Chamber strongly opposes provisions of S. 517 to mandate increased Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. Dramatic increases in CAFE would result in decreased vehicle utility and consumer choice and, as determined by the National Academy of Sciences, increase the risk of harm to drivers and occupants involved in accidents. Decisions on CAFE should be left to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which will base the standards on sound science, taking into account factors such as fuel efficiency, safety, and technological innovation.
- The U.S. Chamber supports continued electricity industry deregulation. The U.S. Chamber supports provisions of S. 517 that would repeal the Public Utility Holding Company Act and amend section 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act. Furthermore, wholesale electricity markets continue to function smoothly, with no interruptions, price spikes, or outages. The U.S. Chamber opposes burdensome new regulations that would unnecessarily hobble competitive markets.
- The U.S. Chamber opposes provisions of S. 517 inconsistent with the Bush administration's climate change strategy. President Bush has proposed a plan that would reduce the growth of greenhouse gas emissions at a rate that would not impose a severe a burden on American industry or economy. The plan encourages achieving greenhouse gas reductions through the use of highly efficient technologies, and the transfer of these technologies to developing nations. The U.S. Chamber opposes provisions of S. 517, particularly the mandatory greenhouse gas registry requirement, that would limit the ability of the President to implement his plan.
- The U.S. Chamber opposes any amendments to S. 517 that would reinstate the Superfund taxes that expired on December 31, 1995. Reinstating taxes that had been dedicated to cleaning up the nation's abandoned hazardous waste sites should not be used to finance unrelated energy proposals. Superfund taxes would be an additional cost of doing business for certain targeted industries, and undoubtedly, a portion of those costs would ultimately be passed on to American consumers in the form of higher prices for products and services. The focus of the energy debate should be on improving our nation's energy security and protecting our economic prosperity – not on imposing arbitrary taxes on American businesses and consumers.
- The U.S. Chamber opposes the renewable electricity portfolio mandate of S. 517. Renewable resources should have an important, and growing, role in supplying our electricity needs. However, the renewable portfolio provision of S. 517 is not reasonable and cannot be achieved without causing dramatic electricity price increases. This provision will diminish the prosperity of all consumers and, by reducing the competitiveness of American businesses in the global economy, will also reduce economic growth and employment.
- The U.S. Chamber opposes any amendment to S. 517 that would undo the President's approval of Yucca Mountain as the nation's repository for spent nuclear fuel outside of the process established by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.
The U.S. Chamber, the world's largest business federation representing three million members and organizations of every size, sector, and region, urges the Senate to continue its efforts to refine and enact comprehensive energy policy legislation. The U.S. Chamber will consider including votes on S. 517 in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
R. Bruce Josten
Executive Vice President, Government Affairs
U.S. Chamber of Commerce