New Congress prepares to weigh energy policies

Despite the dramatic increase in domestic supplies from the shale revolution, long-standing divisions remain between those who want more production and those who fear the environmental consequences.
by Chris Casteel Published: February 10, 2013
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The approach, she said, should include developing domestic resources and dedicating a portion of the revenue to “energy solutions of tomorrow.”

“Climate change has to be part and parcel of what we're talking about,” she said.

That was an opinion emphasized by Rep. Henry Waxman, of California, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, at a hearing last week on the increased oil and gas supplies in the country because of the shale revolution.

“Every decision to build a new fossil fuel-fired power plant or construct a pipeline to transport tar sands or drill for more oil off our nation's coasts has climate risks,” Waxman said. “We need to understand and weigh those risks before we lock in infrastructure that will produce carbon pollution for decades to come.”

Last year, the president devoted a large portion of his State of the Union speech to energy, crediting the federal government with research that led to the shale gas revolution and hailing the fact that oil imports were the lowest in 16 years.

Obama also reiterated the position that has angered oil and gas industry leaders since the president first took office — that Washington should “end taxpayer giveaways to an industry that rarely has been more profitable.”

He may very well make the same point again Tuesday, since the White House has mentioned ending tax breaks for the oil and gas industry as part of deficit-reducing tax reform.

But, like many energy issues, there is a big partisan — and regional — divide on the issue.

The Senate Republican plan says it “defies logic” that tax hikes on the energy industry “should be among the goals of any rational energy policy.”

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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