The year of energy
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.