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ENERGY SECRETARY CALLS FOR BIPARTISAN EFFORT TO COMPLETE SOUND ENERGY LEGISLATION

 ENERGY SECRETARY CALLS FOR BIPARTISAN EFFORT
 TO COMPLETE SOUND ENERGY LEGISLATION
 WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Secretary of Energy James D. Watkins today expressed concern about the slow pace of negotiations taking place as more than 130 congressional conferees struggle to reconcile the Senate and House versions of the energy bill before the October adjournment.
 "Congress has been working on this bill since the president announced his National Energy Strategy 566 days ago," said Watkins. "There are now only 10 days left before the Congress is scheduled to adjourn, but many difficult and important issues remain to be resolved. Without the personal involvement of the members in completing a good bill it will not happen, and the potential benefits of this bill, for our economy, for energy producers, for energy consumers, and for the environment, will be lost."
 The conference involves 134 lawmakers representing 16 congressional committees -- 12 from the House and four from the Senate. House and Senate staffers have worked to reach consensus since mid-summer when the Senate passed a revised version of the House bill and sent it to conference.
 The administration is working with the Congress to expedite passage of "a comprehensive bill that balances -- as the NES does -- economic growth, energy security and environmental protection," said Watkins. "The president is determined to sign responsible energy legislation to implement his National Energy Strategy."
 President Bush announced the National Energy Strategy on Feb. 20, 1991. Nearly a year to the day later, on Feb. 19, 1992, the Senate approved its version of the energy bill by a vote of 94-4. The House passed its version on May 27, 1992 by a vote of 381-37. Then, on July 30, 1992, the Senate approved a revised version of the House legislation and sent the bill to conference. Both versions of the bill promote domestic energy production, energy efficiency, regulatory reform and clean burning alternatives to imported oil.
 At issue are provisions of vital importance to U.S. economic growth, energy security and environmental quality. Alternative minimum tax (AMT) relief for independent producers, for example, will remove a substantial disincentive to domestic oil and gas production. "The administration supports the AMT provisions in the Senate energy bill. U.S. independent oil and gas producers need capital to invest and produce energy for America," said Watkins, "and they can't wait until next year and a new Congress."
 The Bush administration also supports legislation to remove regulatory barriers to increased natural gas use in vehicles and electricity generation. "Increased use of natural gas could boost U.S. gross national product, reduce oil imports, and improve the nation's trade balance," said Watkins. Increased use of the cleaner- burning domestic fuel also advances the administration's objectives to improve the environment.
 The administration is strongly opposed to certain provisions of the House bill. For example, the House bill restricts access to the Outer Continental Shelf where trillions of cubic feet of natural gas lie waiting to be tapped. And the Markey-Schuerer amendment would preempt states' ability to conserve resources, prevent waste and protect correlative rights of gas producers and royalty owners. Watkins said, "These restrictive policies are inconsistent with the president's desire to sign a pro-growth energy bill."
 -0- 9/23/92
 /CONTACT: Marty Allday of the U.S. Department of Energy, 202-586-4940/ CO: U.S. Department of Energy ST: District of Columbia IN: OIL SU: LEG


KD -- DC030 -- 2871 09/23/92 18:23 EDT
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Date:Sep 23, 1992
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