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Bipartisan Energy Politics? 105th Congress Takes on Electric Restructuring in Earnest

Fortnightly Magazine - March 15 1997

an entire industry and to address those issues that only the federal government has a responsibility for," says Dennis. He says those areas include interstate commerce, taxes, reciprocity, the fate of the Power Marketing Administrations and tax-exempt financing.

Murkowski told the Edison Electric Institute Government Affairs Conference in January that he doesn't advocate change for change's sake. "Nor do I believe that the federal government is the only agent of change," he said. He noted that, according to the Edison Electric Institute, 47 states have begun formal or informal proceedings to address restructuring issues. And 30 percent of the U.S. population lives in states with final restructuring orders.

"Preemption of states is a tool of last resort," he said. "Neither the federal government nor the FERC is the solution to all problems."

Joseph F. Schuler, Jr. is associate editor of PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY.


105th Congress


Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), Speaker

Richard K. Armey (R-Texas),

Majority Leader

Thomas D. DeLay (R-Texas),

Majority Whip

Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.),

Minority Leader

David E. Bonoir (D-Mich.),

Minority Whip


Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.),

President Pro Tempore

Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Majority Leader

Don Nickles (R-Okla.), Majority Whip

Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.),

Minority Leader

Wendell H. Ford (D-Ky.),

Minority Whip

Power Brokers in the House

Thomas J. Bliley, Jr. (R-Va.)

As chair of the House Committee on Commerce, Bliley has said electricity deregulation will be his panel's "most ambitious task." He wants to give consumers the power to choose their electric supplier, and he'll be leading the push to dismantle the utility monopoly this year (em ahead of the Senate's efforts. Bliley brings a small businessman's perspective to the debate, having had his own business prior to being elected to Congress in 1980. He is known for his competence and fairness.

Richard M. Burr (R-N.C.)

A member of the House Commerce Committee, Burr's subcommittee appointments include Energy and Power. He was first elected to Congress in 1994; he has yet to author energy legislation. Seen as "intellectually engaged" in the restructuring issue, he typically has attended hearings from start to finish. His staff says he's earning the reputation as a consensus builder, and is aware of the large number of players and their interests.

Ralph M. Hall (D-Texas)

Elected to the House in 1980, Hall is the new ranking Democrat on the Energy and Power Subcommittee. According to his staff, he believes in the goal of deregulation and that if done correctly, it will benefit consumers with better quality, lower-cost electricity. He expects to work with both parties on a "common sense" approach. He thinks Schaefer's bill is a good starting point.

Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.)

A member of the House Commerce Committee and its Energy and Power Subcommittee, Markey has been active in the national energy policy debate. He authored the wholesale wheeling provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and was a principal author of EPAct's PUHCA amendments. According to one source, Markey has urged Republicans to work with Democrats on a bipartisan restructuring bill.

Dan Schaefer (R-Colo.)

Chairman of the House Commerce Committee's Energy