What: All Issues : Environment : Clean Water/Water Conservation : HR 6. Energy Policy/Vote to Instruct House Conferees to Drop Any Provisions in the Energy Conference Report Which Would Weaken Clean Water Standards.
 Who: All Members
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HR 6. Energy Policy/Vote to Instruct House Conferees to Drop Any Provisions in the Energy Conference Report Which Would Weaken Clean Water Standards.
house Roll Call 618     Nov 07, 2003
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

A key domestic priority for the Bush Administration has been to overhaul the nation's energy policies. In early 2001, Vice President Cheney, in concert with a number of highly placed energy industry representatives, drafted a comprehensive energy policy to increase the domestic production of oil by, among other things, creating new tax breaks for oil producers, expanding drilling operations in the U.S. including a highly-contentious proposal to drill for oil in Alaska's National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), and easing environmental regulations on the oil and gas industry. The original energy plan, however, was defeated in Congress in 2001 and 2002 in large part because the proposed oil drilling in ANWR galvanized opposition among environmentally-minded lawmakers. In 2003, the administration dropped the ANWR provisions from its energy plan and added ethanol subsidies to attract support from lawmakers representing corn-producing states. The modified energy plan was then adopted by the House and Senate, albeit in different forms, and a conference committee was convened to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the legislation (the product of conference committee negotiations is a conference report, the final version of a piece of legislation when the two houses of Congress pass different versions). In an effort to influence the policy debate within the conference committee, Representative Filner (D-CA) motioned to instruct House conferees to drop any provisions from the conference report that would weaken clean water standards. Progressives supported the motion to instruct based on their concerns about a provision debated in conference committee to legally shield producers of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), a gasoline additive, from any costs associated with cleaning up groundwater pollution caused by MTBE. Progressives pointed out that MTBE has been found to contaminate groundwater and has been linked to cancer. A liability waiver for MTBE producers, Progressives argued, would undermine the clean water standards that are codified in the Clean Water Act. Conservatives did not specifically address the concerns raised by Progressives over the MTBE liability provision during debate on the motion to instruct but argued that the motion, if passed, would result in less domestic energy production, higher natural gas prices, and the loss of manufacturing jobs. On a vote of 188-210, the Filner motion was defeated and House conferees were not instructed to drop the MTBE liability provisions from the energy conference report.

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