The House of Representatives passed the Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act (HR6899) Tuesday night on a mostly party-line vote of 236–189.
The bill authorizes exploration and offshore drilling 50 miles off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, lifting a moratorium in place since 1981. The bill also renews energy tax credits set to expire at the end of the year. Other provisions in the legislation include other incentives for developing clean power and transportation systems, as well as a repeal of some tax breaks for big oil to fund tax credits for plug-in hybrid vehicles, energy efficiency programs, and clean coal.
Republicans weren’t happy because the bill was introduced on Monday, giving them barely a day to review it. They also claim that the bill doesn’t go far enough by not allowing drilling within 50 miles of the coast (where some claim most of the oil lies) and doesn’t allow states to collect oil lease revenue.
The bill will go to the Senate, that is expected to debate later this week its own compromise energy package proposal set forth by what is now the “gang of 20”. The Senate version allows for drilling only in the Gulf of Mexico and along the southeastern Atlantic coast, as well as a 5 year extension of renewable energy tax credits and some $84 billion in conservation, alternative energy, and efficiency programs.
President Bush has said he would veto the current version of the legislation passed by the House last night.
Thousands of jobs and billions of investment dollars are at risk of being wiped away if Congress fails to extend renewable tax credits, set to adjourn on September 26.