From the Office of Congressman Charles Bass
May 5, 2006
Contact: Tad Furtado
BASS LEADS EFFORT TO SUPPORT RENEWABLE ENERGY
Opposes Special-Interest Earmark in Coast Guard Conference Report
Washington , D.C. - Congressman Charles Bass (R-NH02) today circulated a Dear Colleague letter to all 435 Members of the House of Representatives to urge them to join him in opposition to the last minute addition of Section 414 to the Conference Report on H.R. 889, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton, and Representatives Jeff Flake, Jay Inslee, Jim Langevin, and Mark Udall joined the effort in calling for the section's removal.
Below is the text of the Dear Colleague and letter to be sent to the House Majority and Minority Leaders next week:
Please join us in writing to the House Leadership in oppositionto an anti-renewable energy legislative earmark that was a last minute addition to the Conference Report on H.R. 889, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act.
As you may know, Section 414 was added to the Conference Report without having been considered by either the House or Senate, and it would effectively derail America's first offshore wind energy project. This earmark is applicable only to the proposed Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound and directly conflicts with the provisions of last year's Energy Policy Act that instituted a comprehensive and balanced regulatory process at the Department of the Interior for the licensing of offshore renewable energy projects. Closed-door earmarks like these, inserted without a full debate and lacking an up or down vote, inappropriately circumvent the legislative process.
The Department of the Interior process will carefully balance the interests of federal and state authorities and specifically requires consultation with the Coast Guard, the Governor, and affected local governments. Specifically, enactment of Section 414 would be a major setback to the nation's development of renewable energy and runs directly counter to the bipartisan efforts of Congress to reduce the use of foreign energy sources and to increase our domestic energy security. This arbitrary political barrier to development and the ongoing regulatory approval process would undermine the confidence of the financial community and deter investment in renewable energy projects across the nation for the foreseeable future. Although Section 414 ostensibly relates to navigation, the U.S. Coast Guard has already determinedthat there would be no adverse effect on navigation. In addition, the U.S. AirForce facility on Cape Cod has determined there would be no effect on navigation or military radar.
Please join us in sending the attached (below) letter to the House Leadership to urge them to work to eliminate Section 414 before the Conference Report is brought to the floor of the House for a vote and send a clear message that Congress will not allow special interests to derail the regulatory process and our ambitions for clean, domestic energy.
For more information or to sign on to the letter by COB Monday, May 8, please contact Tad Furtado (Bass) or Brian Daniels (Langevin).
The Honorable John Boehner
The Office of the House Majority Leader
H-107 The Capitol
Washington , DC 20515
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
The Office of the House Minority Leader
H-204 The Capitol
Washington , DC 20515
Dear Majority Leader Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi,
We are writing to strongly urge the removal of Section 414 in the Conference Report for H.R. 889, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act.
As you know, this provision was inserted into the Conference Report without having first appeared in either the House or Senate version of the bill. Earmarks like these, inserted without a full debate and lacking an up or down vote, inappropriately circumvent the legislative process. In addition, the provision directly violates the guidelines set bythe Energy Policy Act of 2005, after years of effort and debate in the committees of jurisdiction. As you know, EPACT specifically required the Minerals Management Service to develop a comprehensive program and regulations, due within the next few weeks, to implement offshore renewable energy authority. This form of special-interest, closed-door authorization earmark runs counter to the hope that Congress would operate in a more open and transparent manner during the Second Session.
Moreover, this proposal will have far reaching effects for offshore development and renewable energy. The U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Air Force installation located on Cape Cod have stated that the proposed wind farm does not pose either navigational or radar interference problems. In fact, the FY06 DoD Authorization bill requires the Pentagon to submit a report to Congress on the "effects of windmill farms on military readiness, including an assessment of the effects on the operations of military radar installations of the proximity of windmill farms to such installations and of technologies that could mitigate any adverse effects on military operations identified." This report is due within the next few weeks. To take legislative action in advance of the report would only further support the cynicism that adding this provision without open debate has created.
Finally, because electricity grids are organized in an interdependent and interconnected manner, ratepayers across the region will suffer if the projected 420 megawatts of clean, renewable energy is not added in a timely manner to this market. The Independent System Operator of New England has warned that the region must significantly increase system-wide resources in the next few years or face shortages. Absent a significant renewable installation being constructed, like Cape Wind, the only alternative development that could likely be sited and constructed in the time frame required would be another combined cycle gas turbine, which would put further pressure on natural gas prices, and reduce the progress being made in the region to reduce greenhouse gas and other emissions.
We hope you will agree that the Cape Wind project deserves to succeed or fail based on its merits and the ongoing review and comprehensive procedures that have been underway for more than five years. In addition, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act is an important priority for the nation. Placing its passage in jeopardy as a result of the inclusion of this section would be unfortunate.
Please do not hesitate to contact any of us directly with any questions or concerns regarding our support for increasing and deploying renewable energy systems.
Bass, Barton, Blackburn, Boehlert, Flake, Inslee , Mark Kennedy, Langevin, Terry, and Udall