Waxman Equates GOP Energy Bill with ‘Secretive’ Bush-Cheney Plan

By Penny Starr | June 6, 2011 | 4:01 AM EDT

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) criticized the Republicans' energy legislation at a House hearing on June 3, 2011, comparing it to what he called the Bush-Cheney's 'secretive' energy plan. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) says the Republicans’ energy legislation is the same as what the Bush administration offered, and that those failed policies contributed to high gas prices.

“We’ve seen this roadmap before,” Waxman said at a hearing of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Friday. “This is a recycled version of the plan developed by the secretive Bush-Cheney Energy Task Force and pushed through Congress by Republicans while they were in office.”

Waxman said during the eight years Bush was in office, his administration “pushed oil and gas drilling, onshore and offshore” and “expedited permits and weakened environmental protections.”

“They tried to greenwash proposals for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by implying congressional appropriators could use royalty revenues to support renewable energy,” Waxman said.

“Today we are sending nearly a billion dollars a day overseas for foreign oil,” he said. “We use 25 percent of the world’s oil, but we only have 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. We’ve worked to increase our domestic crude oil production by nearly 300,000 barrels per day.

“And yet,” Waxman said, “gas prices remain high.”

The hearing focused on “The American Energy Initiative – Roadmap for America’s Energy Future,” or H.R. 909, a comprehensive energy bill drafted by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee and who testified at the hearing.

The Republican bill would increase oil exploration and development of oil and natural gas resources on the U.S. outer continental shelf and require the Department of Interior to meet leasing timelines.

It also would repeal the ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The bill would amend the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 to eliminate the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management and calls for radiological material to be stored in the Yucca Mountain nuclear repository in Nevada, unless the Nuclear Regulatory Commission “determines it is not a suitable location.”

The bill would also prohibit the president from “blocking or hindering spent nuclear fuel recycling activities.” In addition, the legislation calls for the acceleration of plans for future nuclear energy plants.

The bill proposes to put new federal leases and royalty revenues into a trust fund, which would be available for “alternative energy” sources through a competitive “reverse auction” process – a process Nunes said would reward the best and most effective clean-energy products.

“The American people are looking to us for leadership,” Nunes said in his prepared testimony. “They know intuitively that we are running out of time and they are worried about the futures of our country and our children.

“They have given us the opportunity to offer solutions to this and other big problems,” he said, adding that it was “time to act.”

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power, called the legislation “a comprehensive plan to break this logjam and enhance both the amount and variety of domestic energy production.”

But Waxman disagreed, harking back to the Bush administration two-and-a-half years after President Barack Obama took office and less than one year after the Republicans regained power in the House of Representatives.

“H.R. 909’s roadmap doesn’t lead to the future,” Waxman said. “It leads to the past.”

Waxman added that the plan’s problem was the same as it had always been and would lead to “huge amounts of carbon pollution that will drive uncontrolled climate change.”