Bipartisan Energy Legislation Has Legs

New bipartisan energy legislation, called the Infrastructure Jobs and Energy Independence Act, has been proposed at a press conference by the Bipartisan Energy Working Group.

The proposal was written by both Republicans, including Rep. Tim Murphy (Pa.), and Democrats such as Rep. Tim Walz (Calif.).  It makes a renewed effort to improve America’s energy policy by expanding offshore oil and domestic natural gas exploration.  Proving there is a high level of bipartisan support for this energy bill, some freshmen House members—who were swept in on last November’s Republican wave—were also part of the effort.

This new energy legislation addresses a number of national concerns, including high energy costs, crumbling infrastructure, and dependence on hostile foreign countries.  It will do all of these things without raising taxes or borrowing money from China.  What makes it different from the current oil-drilling bill that just passed the House is that it would direct tax revenues from the new oil exploration to both energy and infrastructure projects.

The energy bill would direct 20% of the revenue collected from new oil exploration and drilling to infrastructure.  The current demand for the maintenance of infrastructure is around $2 trillion, and this bill could make a huge dent in providing the necessary funds to close that inevitable shortfall.  This could occur without raising taxes, because the expansion of oil drilling would also open up previously untapped revenue sources.

The group said that there would also be increased economic activity and a boost in jobs for Americans. The estimates are 1.2 million jobs created in numerous private industries, and an increase of $8 trillion dollars from the overall improvement in the economy.

On top of the infrastructure funding, revenue would also be directed to alternative energy development.  For those who want a dramatic expansion of alternative energy as a means of protecting the environment, the bill would invest about $2 trillion to $4 trillion in that quest.

Despite the usual resistance by many Democrats, when asked about the possible expansion of nuclear energy through the bill, Rep. Bill Shuster (R.-Pa.) said, “Nuclear is a possibility.  I’m still willing to look at it.”  So the development of more nuclear energy could be a large part of this legislation, on top of oil, natural gas and alternative sources.

A big draw for the bill is that it covers national security needs along with addressing energy concerns.  Rep. Murphy said, “We ship over $1 billion dollars a day overseas for foreign oil.”  He continued, “There’s no reason to keep lining the pockets of foreign governments when we can use our own resources to fund our energy needs.”

Many of the foreign suppliers of oil are openly hostile to the United States—such as Venezuela and most of the countries in OPEC—and a shift to increase domestic oil exploration could reverse a trend that began in the 1970s toward almost complete dependence on foreign oil.

With the growing need for jobs and energy, this new legislation proposes to achieve those ends and has the bipartisan support needed to pass.  Rep. Jim Costa (D.-Calif.) said, “We need to focus not only on the near-term, but also stick to the long-term,” and, “We’ve got to produce energy right here in America using every tool in our energy toolbox.”