What: All Issues : Government Checks on Corporate Power : Utility Industry : H R 6. Energy Plan/Motion to Instruct House Conferees to Expand Regulatory Powers of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. (2003 house Roll Call 476)
 Who: All Members

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H R 6. Energy Plan/Motion to Instruct House Conferees to Expand Regulatory Powers of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
house Roll Call 476     Sep 05, 2003
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Early in 2003, the House Energy Committee crafted legislation outlining a national energy plan. In many respects, the 2003 energy plan was similar to legislation drafted by Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001. The 2001 legislation was defeated in conference committee because the House and Senate could not resolve their differences on issues such as oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR); similar challenges to passage confront the 2003 energy plan as it heads to a conference committee (conference negotiations to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the energy bill were scheduled to begin on September 5, 2003). Progressives opposed key aspects of the 2003 energy plan, including: 1) provisions which would allowing oil-drilling in ANWR; 2) the absence of investment in renewable energy sources; and 3) the inclusion of tax breaks for fossil-fuel energy producers. Conservatives supported the 2003 energy plan based on their view that a greater emphasis on domestic oil production was needed to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Drilling in ANWR and providing tax breaks to U.S. oil producers, Conservatives argued, were necessary steps to spur domestic oil production. On this vote, Congressman Dingell (D-MI) motioned to instruct the House of Representatives' conferees to resolve differences in the House and Senate versions of the legislation pertaining to electricity reliability by September 12, 2003. Specifically, in light of the widespread power outages in the Northeast and Midwest in August 2003, Dingell (and Progressives) wanted to speed the creation and implementation of so-called regional transmission organizations (RTO's) across the nation to regulate utility companies and enforce electricity reliability rules (RTO's would be managed my the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC). Progressives voted for Dingell's motion to instruct as a way to help solidify passage of RTO's as a free-standing bill; even if other aspects of the House and Senate energy plans could not be reconciled in conference committee negotiations, Progressives hoped that agreement could be reached on the creation of RTO's (the two versions of the energy plan contained similar (reconcilable) provisions regarding RTO's). Conservatives voted against the motion to instruct based on their view that less regulation, and not more regulation, was the best solution to insure that energy markets generally, and electricity generation specifically, functioned properly and reliably. On a party-line vote of 176-211, Dingell's motion was defeated and House conferees were not instructed to adopt regional transmission organizations during conference committee negotiations with the Senate.

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