As the Colorado Independent’s Troy Hooper reports:
A bill designed to encourage oil shale development cruised through the House on Thursday evening. But a wind production tax credit didn’t fly, and now layoffs and abandoned projects loom…
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, bundled the energy bills into a broader transportation package, most of which still hasn’t made it out of the House. Despite a century of failed efforts to make oil shale profitable, along with a Congressional Budget Office report that projects oil shale leases will total less than $100,000 annually over the next decade, Boehner has said energy drilling will fund his $260 billion transit package. The Congressional Budget Office report, however, projected Boehner’s bill would, over 10 years, leave the highway trust fund $78 billion in the red.
“Oil shale will not fund a single road or bridge repair,” said Matt Garrington, the Colorado-based deputy director of the Checks and Balances Project. “I’m afraid the Speaker and Rep. Lamborn have sold Congress on a plan that will actually increase the national deficit. Oil shale is a failed resource which will generate zero revenues, and Americans will have to pay the price.”
…Indeed, it was a good week in Congress for fossil fuels and a bad one for renewable energy.
An extension of the wind production tax credit was initially folded into an earlier version of a plan to extend the nation’s payroll-tax cut and unemployment insurance bill. But when a deal was reached Thursday, the wind production tax credit was left out. All of Colorado’s congressional delegation except Lamborn support the extension of the wind tax credit, which debuted in 1992.
We’re trying to figure out how the U.S. House of Representatives could have possibly delivered a more confused or out-of-touch message on energy policy than the items they passed, and didn’t pass, in the last week. Rep. Doug Lamborn’s bill to “boost” oil shale production, ostensibly to fund transportation projects as part of a larger package from Speaker John Boehner, was estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to have basically no value over the next ten years. Along with Rep. Scott Tipton, who has pushed “snake oil” shale development with similar grandiose forecasts and blanket condemnation of the Obama administration and who backed Lamborn’s bill, this was a substitute for effective action on energy–a political exercise that only works if the target audience doesn’t understand the facts.
Meanwhile, the wind energy production tax credit that didn’t make it into the final payroll tax-cut compromise–supported by every Colorado member of Congress except Doug Lamborn–has to wait, and an industry responsible for thousands of Colorado jobs waits in the lurch with it.
Seriously, folks, could they have done any worse for Colorado’s actual energy economy?