DEMOCRATS VOTE AGAINST AMENDMENT TO PROTECT POOR FROM RISING ENERGY COSTS
December 5, 2007
Posted by Matthew_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov (12:24pm ET)
During today's Environment and Public Works Committee business meeting, Senate Democrats defeated Sen. Bond’s amendment to the Lieberman-Warner bill that would guarantee low- and fixed-income families are protected from significantly burdensome higher home heating or cooling prices as a result of this bill.
Bond Amendment #1
Low- and fixed-income families are particularly vulnerable to higher home heating and cooling prices threatened by the Lieberman-Warner bill. None of the programs contained in this bill guarantee low- and fixed-income families are protected from significantly burdensome higher home energy prices. The currently proposed Federal Reserve Board-type cost relief measures are triggered only by economy-wide and nationwide problems and are too general and indirect to address specific situations such as low- or fixed-income suffering in certain regions of the country. Auction and allocation programs make funds available to aid the poor and seniors, but there are no guarantees recipients such as States where given a choice will devote their funds to aid the poor and seniors versus other authorized activities such as efficiency or conservation programs. Energy Assistance funds are routed through programs such as LIHEAP favoring Northeastern States or winter heating costs as opposed to other States or summer cooling needs. Even with the maximum amount of funds going to aid low- and fixed-income families, there is no guarantee of protection from price increases that outstrip available aid funds.
The Bond amendment adds to the duties of the Carbon Market Efficiency Board (Board) created by the Act the collection of data on residential retail electricity and natural gas prices and the extent to which they become significantly burdensome to low- or fixed-income persons or families.
*Allows the Board to employ at any time its currently proposed Federal Reserve-type cost relief measures to reverse adverse economic conditions caused by this Act.
*However, if the Act’s currently proposed measures fail within 30 days to relieve the conditions created by this Act resulting in residential retail electricity or natural gas costs at levels significantly burdensome to low- or fixed-income persons or families, requires the Board to employ emergency cost relief measures consisting of a “safety-valve” developed by the bipartisan Bingaman-Specter climate bill to reverse those conditions.
*If invoked, the Board must set the safety-valve price of the program at a level and for the time necessary to reverse the conditions created by this Act resulting in residential retail electricity or natural gas costs at levels significantly burdensome to low- or fixed-income persons or families.
*Requires the Board to monitor and act upon emergency conditions either in the United States as a whole or in any region of the country such as the Northeast, South, Midwest, Mountain West or West Coast.
Senate Majority Committee Members
Sen. Barbara Boxer - NO
Senate Minority Committee Members
Sen.James M. Inhofe - YES