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Burgess Blows off H.R.6 - Energy Alternatives - Blames Clinton...

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2007/2/1 3:49:15 (3077 reads)

Michael Burgess wrote this letter to a constituent who expressed support for H.R.6, the Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act of 2007 (Which Burgess voted against). His letter is in the yellow, my rebuttal in the white.

Little Elm, Texas 75068


Thank you for expressing your support for H.R. 6, the Creating Long-Term Energy Alternatives for the Nation Act of 2007. I appreciate hearing from you on this important matter.

As you may know, Congressman Nick Rahall (D-West Virginia) introduced H.R. 6 on January 12, 2007 as part of the House Democrats 100 Hours agenda. Specifically H.R. 6 prohibits energy companies from receiving a domestic manufacturing tax deduction -- thereby making it more expensive for them to do business in the U.S. and more likely that we will need to import foreign oil. The bill also violates contract sanctity by coercing energy companies to re-negotiate faulty leases issued by the Clinton Interior Department in 1998 and 1999 that did not include price-thresholds, above which royalty relief would not apply. This provision accounts to a "taking" by the federal government, which is prohibited by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The portion of the 5th amendment you refer to is this: "...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." The bill does not amount the the "taking" of private property. The cases in question are LEASES of public property, for which the government has a compelling interest in receiving due compensation. Contracts which are "faulty" may be considered unconscionable, which can render them void. I don't claim to know why government officials neglected this in '98 and '99, but I do believe that the government should have the power to force renegotiation of contracts where there is evidence that the contract was "faulty" as you say. Not just on a whim, when the market changes, or we need the money, but when mistakes are made. BUT... We are NOT coercing the renegotiation of these contracts. The bill says in very plain English that we are ALLOWING the renegotiation. The Government simply will not extend any other leases to a company that has not renegotiated the leases in question. This is something that any business in the free market can do: choose who to do business with, and under what terms. Your argument is weak and simply unfounded. They got a sweetheart deal, and our government has honored and will continue to honor the deal, but we're stopping the gravy train. If the oil companies want to do business with us, they will have to renegotiate these leases.

In June 2006, the House passed "The Deep Ocean Energy Resources (DOER) Act" (HR 4761). A key provision in this bill required the leaseholders to renegotiate their lease to add price thresholds or be subject to a substantive fee. This provision would recapture the royalty fees without violating contract sanctity. The bill also creates a new fee for both producing and non-producing leases, in addition to the bonus bids and royalties that they already pay to the federal government.

Yeah, and how did that HUGE bill work out? Oh, that's right: It died in the Senate. you tried to make it sound like DOER was law and this bill was redundant. That is called deception.

The bill repeals royalty incentives put in place under last Congress' Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) to encourage energy production in hard-to-reach and technologically-challenging places such as ultra deepwater Gulf of Mexico and offshore Alaska. Unlike the 1998-1999 leases, under every provision of EPAct 2005 where royalty relief is granted, the Secretary of the Interior is granted authority to set price thresholds based upon market price. Under today's energy prices, producers would not and do not receive royalty relief from these provision. Instead, these provisions provide energy companies with the price certainty they need to make billion-dollar investments in American energy.

Uh - Yeah. That's what they meant to do. Mike, I'm sure you know about the free-market, right? ExxonMobil's profits just came in today at $39.5 Billion, setting an all time record for a U.S. publicly traded company. The oil industry does not need "royalty relief" of any sort. Under today's prices, there may be less incentive for them to explore or drill, but believe me, they'll do it anyway because it's in their best long-term interest.

Finally, the bill creates a new "Strategic Energy Efficiency and Renewables Reserve," but does not specify how these funds would be used. The future may hold a fleet of duel-fueled vehicles powered by efficient engines such as electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles and homes and businesses powered purely by solar and wind power. But our economy today is based on the availability of a cheap and stable energy supply; most of which is currently supplied by fossil fuels. To ensure our energy independence, I believe that we must ensure the continued supply of conventional energy sources, as well as simultaneously developing alternative energy sources, like wind and hydrogen fuel cells. Unfortunately, this bill does nothing to decrease our dependency on foreign oil or to promote clean energy sources.

You are technically correct in that the bill does not specifically authorize or appropriate funding for any specific energy efficiency or renewables projects. But to say that it "does nothing" is simply incorrect. It creates a fund, from which future projects that your committee will vote on individually may be funded. This is about fiscal responsibility as much as it is about efficiency and sustainability. You should appreciate that, but apparently you don't.

As a Member on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, I will advocate for policies that put America on the road to energy independence.

OK, Dr. Burgess, you're on the spot. You said that H.R.6 doesn't provide specifics - I want to hear your big ideas now. WHAT ARE YOU PROPOSING? WHAT ARE YOU FOR? GIVE ME A SPECIFIC ANSWER. I have a dozen or more specific ideas, and I'm just a regular guy. You as a congressman MUST have some inkling of what to do. And don't give me any bullshit about "how are we going to pay for it" because according to the CBO, H.R.6 just gave you $14,000,000,000 over the next 10 years to work with.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. I appreciate having the opportunity to represent you in the U.S. House of Representatives. Please feel free to visit my website ( or contact me with any future concerns.


Michael C. Burgess, M.D.
Member of Congress

Keep emailing us nonsense, and we'll keep posting it. Stay in touch, will you?

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