US business asks Obama for new energy policy

17 November 2008 22:22  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--US business leaders on Monday urged Congress and the incoming Obama administration to greatly expand exploration and development of domestic oil and gas reserves as part of a comprehensive new energy policy.

 

The US Chamber of Commerce told President-elect Barack Obama and the more Democrat-controlled Congress that the lack of a cohesive and broadly based federal energy policy over the past 40 years has helped put the nation in its current crisis.

 

“We are at a defining moment for our nation’s energy future and the US must now undertake a comprehensive and strategic approach to include both long- and short-term actions to address our growing energy challenges,” said James Jones, president of the chamber’s energy policy group.

 

The chamber, whose 3m member firms include a wide range of chemical, plastics and other industrial businesses, said that the 111th US Congress that convenes in January next year should pass within 2009 an energy policy bill that meets 13 criteria, including expanded domestic oil and gas production.

 

The chamber’s energy policy criteria also call for expanded nuclear and clean coal energy for electric utilities, aggressive energy efficiency gains, greater funding for energy and environmental research and development (R&D) and modernisation of the nation’s power grid.

 

The recommendations come as Democrat leaders in the US Congress are planning a broad range of environmental and alternative energy initiatives that under the administration of President George Bush would have faced a veto.

 

According to leaders in the Senate and House, a bill to control climate change by imposing mandatory limits on US emissions of greenhouse gases is almost certain to emerge from the 111th Congress by 2010.

 

That goal is supported by Obama, who also voiced support during his election campaign for a windfall profits tax on US energy companies.

 

Perhaps in anticipation of emissions controls and increased taxes, the chamber cautioned that climate control restrictions must come with international cooperation if they are to work at all, and that sound energy policies can generate federal revenues without punitive taxes on any one segment of the economy.

 

“Implementation of policies that enable the production of resources owned by the American taxpayer [such as] natural gas on the outer continental shelf or oil shale on federal lands will result in the direct increase of royalty and bonus payments to the federal government for access to those resources,” the chamber said.

 

If federal policies under the new administration and Congress restrict energy development and raise taxes, the chamber warned that more US businesses will migrate to other countries for lower energy costs and fewer regulatory burdens.

 

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By: Joe Kamalick
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