Defeated But New
November 19, 2002
An energy bill opposed by the IBEW for its electricity deregulation provisions fell apart in the final days of the 107th Congress. But observers say it is likely that another energy billpromoted by the President and supported by both houses of Congresswill replace the old one early next year.
Failure to reach a compromise between House of Representatives and Senate negotiators spelled the end of the energy bill. The two chambers produced widely disparate legislation reflecting the conflicting priorities of the Republican-dominated House and the Democrat-controlled Senate. Key to the House version was opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska for oil exploration. The Senate blueprint promoted renewable energy and the repeal of the Public Utilities Holding Company Act (PUHCA), the one section the IBEW lobbied hard against.
"With all of those big differences, it seemed like it would be hard to bring the two together," said IBEW Utility Department Director Jim Dushaw. Once it became apparent that the Republicans would win the Senate, Dushaw said the majority party ceased attempts at compromise. "With a new Congress in January, leadership in both houses will be with the Republicans."
In the end, after two years of debate, the only piece of the wide-ranging legislation that could be salvaged from either bill was a pipeline safety provision, which passed easily as a stand-alone bill last week.
"I think [the energy bill] will come back in January," Dushaw said. "I dont think it will take the Republicans and the administration long to repackage the Presidents proposal. The bill will reflect the administrations worldview of energy, and were certain ANWR and electricity deregulation will be in there."
The IBEW, the AFL-CIO and other coalition partners will be working to develop a legislative strategy to deal with the next incarnation of the energy bill. "We anticipate the Republican leadership in both chambers to move aggressively in the 108th Congress, so well need a lot of grassroots support fro IBEW local unions to prevent harmful legislation from passing," said IBEW International President Edwin D. Hill.
IBEW Press Release- 9/29/02