WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards opposed legislation that would limit domestic production of natural gas on federal lands, increase consumer costs, and harm American jobs. The bills, HR 3221 and HR 2776, were part of the package of energy legislation put forward by House leadership that passed Aug. 4, but have received a veto threat from the Bush Administration.
“There are some good provisions in this bill that encourage energy conservation and the development of renewable energy resources. However, I could not support its passage because several provisions could reduce the domestic production of natural gas. I am concerned about those provisions, because increasing natural gas production is a key to reducing Texans’ utility bills and farmers’ fertilizer costs and to protecting American manufacturing jobs,” Edwards said.
Specific provisions in the bills opposed by Edwards would increase taxes on domestic natural gas operations which would not only limit domestic production, but prioritize coal, a more environmentally damaging energy source, over natural gas, the cleanest burning fossil fuel.
Edwards also opposed a renewable electricity standard provision requiring utilities by 2020 to generate at least 15 percent of their electricity using renewable energy sources. Despite Texas’ own ambitious state program, the federal RES mandate is even more ambitious and that could mean that Texas utilities could be forced to make payments to meet the federal mandate being considered by Congress, which could result in an increase in utility bills for consumers.
“I opposed the energy tax increases because I was concerned they could discourage the domestic energy production needed to lower gasoline and utility prices for our families and businesses. Over the next several months, I hope the House and Senate can work out a final energy bill that will lower energy costs and reduce our dependence upon foreign energy sources,” Edwards said.
Edwards supports operations to produce natural gas in the Barnett Shale in Johnson County and has cosponsored H.R. 902, legislation that has passed the House authorizing a $1 million water recycling pilot project for North Central Texas natural gas operations.
Edwards has long supported ending the federal ban on drilling for domestic sources of natural gas off the outer continental shelf. Edwards believes that producing more domestic sources of clean-burning natural gas is an important part of transitioning U.S. energy policy over the long-term away from foreign sources of oil to more renewable energy sources and has cosponsored H.R. 2784, the National Environment and Energy Development Act, to lift the current ban on offshore drilling for natural gas along America’s Outer Continental Shelf.
The final vote on HR 3221 was 241-172 and 221-189 on HR 2776.