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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., is disappointed with Senate Democrats for blocking passage today on a long awaited energy policy for America.

The Senate failed to obtain cloture on the Energy Policy Act by a vote of 57-40. Cloture is a parliamentary move that requires 60 votes to shut off debate and move to an up-or-down majority vote. Republicans are actually only two votes shy of the 60 vote requirement because Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who favors cloture voted against cloture for procedural reasons.

The energy bill would implement electricity reliability standards, repeal the Public Utility Holding Act to increase investment in electricity transmission and generation, and address electric transmission grid congestion and market manipulation and fraud, among other things.

"I'm disappointed some Democrats decided to block this legislation. This bill isn't perfect, but it's a good start. I know I'm not the only one who feels that one provision or another could have been added or left out and it would have made for a better bill. Like me, almost every senator can point at something that they wish could have been included for their state, but wasn't. It's a reason to be disappointed, but it's not a reason to ignore the task at hand, which is to continue the process and develop a national energy policy," said Enzi.

Frist could call for another vote on the conference report in the coming days.

Following is Enzi's full statement in support of the bill which he submitted for the record.

Statement by
Senator Michael B. Enzi
Our Need for An Energy Policy
November 21, 2003

There is an old adage we have heard many times that says that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Today we are taking another one of those steps in a long journey that will hopefully lead to an increase in our energy independence, more reliable sources of energy, and more stable prices that are not so subject to fluctuations in the energy market.

The bill we have before us is something that will truly affect every American, no matter their age, where they work, where they live, or what activities they pursue in life. One of the many things that bonds us as Americans is our love of so many things that makes us consumers of energy. No matter who you are, you are a strong and vital part of that market.

If you drive a car, you won't get very far without a full tank of gas.

If you use a computer, you have to tie it to some source of electricity to get the power you need to access the Internet or the information stored on your hard drive.

If you live in a mobile home, or in a cabin in the woods and cook your food over an open fire, you are still an energy consumer who is using a resource to make your dinner.

Every lifestyle has its own energy needs and we have been incredibly blessed to have had access to an abundance of energy for many, many years.

In fact, we had such relatively easy access to energy we started to take it for granted. That led to calls for conservation and more wise use of our resources when energy costs first started to rise. That was the start of our journey to create an energy policy – one that has seen us through these past years. Unfortunately, it has taken quite a long time to agree on an update to our policy, one that takes into consideration the changes we have seen in our society and in the availability of energy both here and abroad.

Our dependence on foreign sources of energy continues to be a national concern, one that had me and many others calling for the creation of a national energy policy, which we have done since 1973 when OPEC and the Saudi Arabians first pulled the plug on our supply of crude oil.

The irony was the fact that we had an abundance of oil here in the United States at the time. In fact, we still have a huge supply of oil in the country today, but that oil has not been made available for exploration. Because we hadn't taken the steps to develop it, we allowed a foreign government to disrupt and control part of our daily lives. We became vulnerable to their manipulations and it took us months to recover. In some ways, we are continuing to recover from those days of the long gas lines, high prices and short supplies that we saw in the 1970's.

Things were bad enough back then when we didn't have an energy policy. Still, they could have been much worse. I shudder to think what might have happened if we'd had a situation like 9-11 occur at the heart of that crisis. If the terrorists had struck when we were economically crippled and energy supplies were low, what effect could they have had on our national security?

That kind of scenario is exactly the kind of thing that a national energy policy like the one we are taking up today is supposed to avoid.

It's taken us quite a while to get where we are, but we finally have something before us that will provide us with a plan, a blueprint for the future that will also address our needs in the present. It's time now for us to take it off the planning board and put it into action. After all, thirty years ought to be enough time to put the basics of a plan together – and that's how long we've had since the energy crisis of the 70's to work out a plan like this. Now we have before us the beginning of what will be a long and continuing effort to stabilize our energy markets and protect our national security.

This bill isn't perfect, but it's a good start. It's more than a beginning, but it is not the final answer. It is a temporary remedy that will start producing results immediately while it lets us continue working on a more permanent solution. In other words, it's a chance to grab the brass ring and get another ride on the energy merry-go-round – while providing for the ride we're currently on.

I'm pleased that this bill includes a number of important provisions that support and promote clean coal development. Coal is an important product of Wyoming, and one of the most important ways we can reduce our dependence on foreign energy is to find ways to diversify our energy supplies and better utilize our nation's abundant coal supplies – especially clean burning coal like we mine in Wyoming.

In addition to our coal supplies, in recent years our new energy development has focused on the increased use of natural gas. I support natural gas development and I hope that our gas industry continues to grow and flourish. I am also keenly aware of the fact that there isn't enough natural gas or infrastructure available to supply all of the world's energy needs so we are going to have to continue relying on coal for some of our energy uses.

That does not mean we have to continue doing business as usual and continue to push our aging coal-fired power plants well beyond their originally designed lifetimes. We have the technology and the ability to design and build cleaner and more efficient power plants that utilize new clean coal technology, but we won't be able to do that if we cripple our economy and prohibit new development.

This won't surprise anyone, but none of us are going to be enthusiastic about everything in this bill. Again, it's not a perfect bill, but it's a good start on a policy. It does not have everything I want in it but it does have more than enough to make it worth our support. There is a provision that would have greatly helped Wyoming get the more than $400 million that it is owed by the federal government through the Abandoned Mine Lands Trust Fund, but that provision was not included in this bill. We have received assurances from the Finance and Energy Committees that they would take up this matter early next year, and we are grateful for their commitments. However, I would have preferred that the provision had been included in this bill and we didn't have to take up any of the committee's time next year. Still, again, on balance, and taking the whole bill into consideration, it's a good bill and it deserves our support.

I know I'm not the only one who feels that one provision or another could have been added or left out and it would have made for a better bill. Like me, almost every state can point at something that they wish could have been included but was not. It's a reason to be disappointed, but it's not a reason to ignore the task at hand, which is to continue the process and develop a national energy policy.

There are just too many positive things that the bill would do for the country in the long and short term. To begin with, the bill would create nearly 1 million jobs and implement mandatory electricity reliability standards that we believe may prevent future massive blackouts as was experienced in August by the Northeast.

It would encourage the federal government to increase energy efficiency in federal installations.

It would increase assistance for lower income families by raising the base authorization of LIHEAP to $3.4 billion.

The bill also includes incentives to increase solar, wind, geothermal and other biomass technologies.

It encourages modernizing and streamlining our nation's hydropower laws.

It provides incentives for responsible oil and gas development and royalty relief for marginal wells. In other words, it helps keep wells that are slow, but long-term energy suppliers going so we don't always have to rely on short-term, get-rich-quick wells for all of our energy needs.

It provides incentives to encourage consumers to purchase more hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles and authorizes two new programs that would improve the efficiency and quality of our nation's fleet of school buses.

There are a number of other provisions included in this bill that will contribute to our nation's energy security and I hope my colleagues will take the time to look at what is in this bill for what it really is: A desperately needed and all important first step toward a policy that will increase our energy independence, ensure we have a more reliable supply of energy available, and a more stable energy market for consumers to purchase from with prices that are not so subject to fluctuation and change.