Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bingaman's Senate Panel Opens Gulf of Mexico for Drilling

This morning, a U.S. Senate panel approved an energy bill on Wednesday that opens large tracts of the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling and provides federal loan guarantees for a gas pipeline project in Alaska.

NM Senator Jeff Bingaman said the measure will “shift our country to cleaner sources of energy, and more secure sources as well”

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee 15-8 to approve the proposal. It will also requires utilities to produce up to 15 percent of electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar power by 2021. The standard is somewhat weaker than that contained in a House energy and climate change bill that is headed for a floor vote as early as next week.

The Senate energy plan doesn’t include requirements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because a different committee has jurisdiction over that issue. The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation last month that would require a 17 percent reduction in emissions by 2020, in addition to imposing a renewable power requirement.

President Barack Obama has called for the nation to get 25 percent of its power from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2025. The Senate plan calls for a 15 percent requirement by 2021. About a quarter of that could be offset by gains in energy efficiency.

Some environmental groups have called for a more aggressive renewable electricity standard than the Senate committee approved today. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have their own programs to encourage renewable energy.

For more on today's vote: The NY Times has complete coverage on it's political blog, The Caucus.

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