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Rural Missouri Magazine

The year of energy

Frank Stork
by Frank Stork

When the U.S. Congress went home last year, it left some unfinished business. The comprehensive energy bill fell short of getting the votes needed for final passage. Through filibuster, senators who did not like the bill talked it to death. The sponsors of energy legislation that almost passed say they will bring it back early this year with changes to attract more votes.

The energy bill failed because some senators thought the bill contained too much. At the same time, the bill failed because some senators thought the bill contained too little. They could not reach that all-important middle ground that is so critical to the passage of most legislation.

The energy bill can be described as being a mile wide with only a few feet dedicated to the electricity section. But oh how important those few feet are. Rural electric cooperatives had to fight hard to hold on to the electrical system we own. Opposing interests from around the country used their political influence to diminish the control we have in our electrical system. They wanted to transfer the operation of our Missouri system to those who would use the system for their own interests.

While our entire congressional delegation gave strong support to our position, we owe a special thanks to Sen. Jim Talent and Rep. Roy Blunt. These two lawmakers from Missouri hold committee and leadership positions that gave them an opportunity to shape the bill before it was taken up by the House and Senate. Through their effective work, the electricity section of the energy bill included a number of safeguards for Missouri consumers.

Our rural electric co-op grass roots members from across the state communicated in a timely way to guide our members of Congress each step of the way. The grassroots team will continue their legislative dialog as the debate on a national energy policy continues.

Keep in mind the energy bill deals with issues other than the production and delivery of electric power. Those issues include: energy efficient buildings, automobile emissions, tax incentives for energy-related investments, oil and natural gas exploration, clean coal research, the production of domestic fuel additives and many others. This particular energy bill has been debated in Congress for nearly three years. Other energy bills aimed toward establishing a national energy policy have been debated for more than a decade.

Will this be the year Congress adopts a far-reaching and comprehensive national energy policy? One thing is for sure. We will need to keep a close eye on any and all proposals to be advanced early this year.

Stork was executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and a member of Three Rivers Electric Co-op.

Rural Missouri magazine - November 2014
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