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Thursday, September 04, 2008

All of the Above, But What Matters Above All

The Republicans have been pounding the Democrats on energy policy so far this summer, effectively adopting an “all of the above” approach (at least in terms of their messaging) to solving our energy price woes. The Democrats’ responses, on the other hand, have failed to frame the debate on their terms, instead offering scattered solutions and saying “no!” to the Republicans’ plans.

The Democrats, however, announced they plan to take back the debate as they return from recess next week and head into the fall. According to Congressman Markey (D-MA), they will deploy a counter-strategy capable of doing “a political reverse takedown on the Republicans.”

The Democrats will test the Republicans with an “All of the Above” strategy that will embrace offshore drilling as it calls for a renewable energy mandate, energy-efficiency measures for buildings, and oil industry tax provisions.

As the Republicans chew on that, I also have to wonder if the Democrats are really paying attention, once again, to what truly matters when it comes to energy policy in 2008.

The Democrats say their bill is a work in progress and offered few specifics besides the information above and their certainty that they will pigeonhole the Republicans with an offshore drilling provision.

House Natural Resources Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) continued that the inclusion of an offshore drilling provision proves that the Democrats are prepared to respond to the needs of some in their caucus and the concerns of the American people.

Democrats say that their message this fall will focus on alternative energy and achieving energy independence. But will their policy solutions match their message? Based on what we have gleaned so far, it is apparent that the Democrats are overlooking some critical details:

It is September. The crucial Production Tax Credits (PTC) and Investment Tax Credits (ITC) for the emerging renewable industries will expire at the end of 2008 if they are not renewed by Congress. If they expire, so will an estimated 116,000 jobs and billions of dollars lost in clean energy profits for homegrown American energy – all at a time when our economy is struggling to pick itself up amidst a slowdown. These tax breaks are absolutely critical to the continued growth of America’s alternative energy industries and their extension will only be good news for our economy.

Promoting a renewable energy mandate, a political nonstarter, when the PTC/ITC extensions are at stake intimates that the Democrats’ priorities are not set straight. The Democrats should drop the mandate and focus on what matters between now and 2009.

The Democrats have a ripe opportunity to get this right – they can win on message, and on policy – if they adopt policies that reflect what Americans’ true concerns are: our economy and energy security. The Democrats, too, need to walk the walk when it comes to an “All of the Above” strategy and include what matters above all else for energy policy in 2008.

1 comment:

jcwinnie said...

Yes, Alisha, there is Big Oil. And, it doesn't just buy Republican congress critters.