December 13 2007

One News Now: Columnist warns Senate energy bill may reduce oil, gas production

Carrie L. Lukas

A conservative commentator says the energy bill being considered by the U.S. Senate will do nothing to increase supply or lower the rising cost of fuel. The columnist has labeled the pending bill as "another failure."

The Democrat-led House passed a bill last week that requires cars, light trucks, and SUVs to average a fuel-efficiency standard of 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The measure also would require utilities to produce 15 percent of their electricity from alternative sources such as wind and solar energy. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was instrumental in crafting the more than $21 billion tax package, which will be offset by repealing certain oil and gas subsidies. The measure may be voted on in the Senate this week.

Carrie Lukas, vice president for policy and economics at the Independent Women's Forum, has discussed the legislation in a column for Townhall.com titled "Time for Another Change: Energy Bill is Another Failure." She says the bill is a series of government mandates for how Americans should consume energy in the country.

"Lawmakers are applauding the idea of raising the fuel-efficiency standards for cars -- but I really wonder if such things are necessary," she says during an interview. "As the cost of gasoline rises, I think we all start thinking 'Gosh, I really wish I was getting more mileage for each gallon of gas.' It's really that dynamic that's going to make us eventually have more fuel-efficient cars because the marketplace is going to demand it."

The IWF vice president warns that the legislation may even lead to a reduction in domestic oil and natural gas production. "It's important that people get educated on the energy bill because I think so many of the reports are misleading," Lukas urges. "[A] lot of people, when they hear [about] an energy bill, think 'Oh great! This means that gas prices are finally going to go down' or 'my home heating bills are going to go down.'

"But actually this bill does nothing to alleviate the problems that everyday Americans are facing in paying for the cost of their energy," she explains. "In fact, a lot of this bill will make those problems worse."

Lukas notes that an analysis by CRA International, a leading economic forecasting and consulting organization, predicts the additional taxes on the oil and natural gas industry and restrictions on drilling contained in the energy bill could actually lead to a decline in domestic oil and natural gas production.

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