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Senate Democrats and national conservative groups are tugging energy conferees in opposite directions on several so-called green provisions included in the Senate version of energy legislation now before a House-Senate conference. In a letter sent to conference committee members Friday, six conservative groups told lawmakers that the Senate's language on global climate change and a renewable portfolio standard should be "deal breakers." Specifically, the groups targeted provisions to create a national greenhouse gas database, require power plants to generate a portion of their electricity from renewable sources, require the Commerce Department to produce climate change vulnerability assessments and ask the White House to develop a strategy for stabilizing greenhouse gases. Together, the sections would "make U.S. energy supplies less abundant, less affordable and less reliable," according to the groups, which included Citizens for a Sound Economy, National Taxpayers Union, Small Business Survival Committee, Americans for Tax Reform, Consumer Alert and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The bill should not become a "vehicle for anti-energy policies that penalize consumers, seniors, taxpayers and the economy," they wrote.
Also last week, Senate Democrats released a fact sheet that defended those and other environmentally friendly provisions included in their bill. Overall, the bill would "address the long-term need to increase domestic energy supplies while promoting greater energy efficiency through the use of new clean technologies," according to a fact sheet compiled by the Democratic Policy Committee. Specifically, Democrats said their bill combines climate change mitigation with "common sense" strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on traditional fossil fuels, such as a requirement that utilities generate 10 percent of their power from renewable sources. House and Senate energy conferees will resume discussions of the bill soon after returning to Capitol Hill from the August recess. Conferees will tackle the toughest energy issues beginning in the third week of September. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Tauzin, the chairman of the negotiations, hopes to wrap up work by October. - by Brody Mullins