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Energy reform is no simple thing. Its complexity is evident in the number of Congressional committees that have a say in developing a legislative package on energy. Reforming the way Americans develop, produce and consume energy requires not just a change of laws, but a change of habits and attitudes. It affects not only our economy, but our international security, our mobility and our health. Not to mention the federal Treasury.
Its a complex issue with a million different pieces. But Roll Call decided to ask Congressional experts a simple question:
If you reform our nations energy policy, who pays and how?
As the debate over comprehensive energy and global climate change legislation moves through Congress this year, gauging who the winners and losers are in this high-stakes game may be a function of perception rather than reality.
With the summer driving season upon us and gasoline prices on the rise again for almost 50 consecutive days, Members of Congress continue to hear from constituents whether single parents, small-business owners, or farmers and ranchers who are struggling to pay growing energy costs. These concerns often spur piecemeal approaches to energy reform in Congress, but we must enact comprehensive and responsible solutions that address our energy needs today and in the long term.
Following a month of continuous negotiations in which I engaged with Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Subcommittee on Energy and Environment Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.), an agreement has now been reached on the principles for greenhouse gas control legislation that protects the national economy and cushions the consumers of fossil-fueled electricity from significant electricity rate increases. Our agreement is at the core of the legislation that has been approved by the Energy and Commerce Committee and will be debated on the House floor this summer.
I dont know anybody who lives on planet Earth and who doesnt want to save it, but I know plenty of people who suspect many of the big, planet-saving ideas are going to hurt them, at least in the wallet.
Last summer, Americans were reeling from the largest oil price spike the nation ever experienced. Oil prices had increased from $51 per barrel in January 2007 to nearly $150 in July 2008 a nearly 200 percent increase in 18 months.
Congress appears poised to rush through the most sweeping change to our nations energy policy in generations. The rhetoric sounds great: a profusion of green jobs, finally making big oil and gas companies pay their fair share in taxes, and even saving the planet.
Securing our nations energy future is one of the most complex, yet most critical, issues that we as Americans face today. While a transition to renewable sources of energy is a laudable goal, it will not happen overnight. Realistically, we simply cannot ignore the importance of fossil fuels in our energy mix oil and gas and coal will certainly continue to be major components in Americas energy portfolio through the foreseeable future.
The future of American energy development is at a crossroads. While we all recognize the need to have an affordable and stable energy supply, agreeing on the best path toward achieving this goal is not simple.
As the debate over future energy legislation continues, it is essential that an area where 40 percent of our total energy consumption occurs remains in these discussions buildings. Investing in energy efficiency measures in buildings is the most immediate and effective way to reduce carbon emissions, lower energy demand, create good, clean energy jobs and save money.