BEST Act Would Promote American Energy Exploration While Protecting Taxpayer Investments
WASHINGTON – Legislation introduced today by U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) calls on the White House to develop a long-term strategy to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil and provide greater energy security here at home.
Sessions’ bill, the Better Energy Strategy for Tomorrow (BEST) Act, instructs the Administration to draft a plan to cut American dependence on foreign energy, lower costs, and reduce emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases. Under the bill, the Administration would update its strategic recommendations to Congress every four years.
“The United States needs a bold, comprehensive national energy plan. Too often, our energy policy has suffered from ad hoc decisions made to appease special interests. The result is a patchwork quilt of ineffective?and sometimes conflicting?policies,” said Sessions, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “We need to focus on the national interest, and that includes increasing production of clean, American energy, reducing emissions, and keeping energy prices low. Leadership by the Department of Energy is essential to success in that effort.”
Sessions’ legislation would also require the Administration to annually evaluate incentives offered by Congress to ensure that federal policy is encouraging technology that can effectively meet the nation’s energy goals. The bill instructs the Administration to examine and recommend changes to a wide range of federal incentives, including mandates, subsidies, tariffs, and tax provisions.
“Government subsidies must be focused on technology that will maximize the taxpayer’s return,” Sessions said. “Some incentives have worked well and can now be reduced or stopped altogether. Those that have failed should be redirected toward more fruitful areas. It is important that we develop new sources of clean energy, but it must be done smartly and without waste.”
Federal law currently provides billions in tax incentives and subsidies to a range of energy producers, including companies that generate energy from wind, solar, ethanol, and fossil fuels, and for conservation practices such as energy-saving home improvements. In addition to tax breaks, U.S. import tariffs and biofuel mandates also affect fuel markets and domestic energy production.
Sessions’ legislation requires the Administration to solicit comments from state agencies and the private sector while considering its recommendations. The National Academy of Science would be asked to comment on the report prior to its submission to Congress.
Sessions’ bill, S. 3240, is expected to be referred to the Senate Energy Committee. Sens. Alexander (R-TN), Allard (R-CO), Barrasso (R-WY), and Cochran (R-MS) are cosponsors of the legislation. Sessions said today that he hopes to attach the measure as an amendment to larger legislation moving through the Senate in the coming months.
A copy of the legislation is available on Sessions’ web site at www.sessions.senate.gov.