An Energy Victory for the Manufacturing Economy

By December 9, 2006General

Congress achieved so many good things for the manufacturing economy in the 109th session, which ended today, that it’s difficult to highlight just one pro-jobs, pro-economy component in the final package of legislation. But we’ll try….

The NAM, its member companies, and many other trade associations — and of course, Congressional leaders — worked long and hard to win passage of bipartisan legislation to open up a portion of the United States’ Outer Continental Shelf to exploration and development. And please remember, given the political landscape at the start of the 109th Congress, few would have thought any positive outcome possible.

Today, NAM President John Engler issued a statement on this year’s Congressional action. It highlighted the historic step to expand access to America’s abundant domestic energy supplies:

“In their final hours, members of the 109th provided America’s manufacturers a legislative shot in the arm, enacting important measures we have sought for the past two years,” Engler said.

In particular, Engler commended action allowing access to domestic energy supplies in the Outer Continental Shelf. “Exploring the OCS is an important step toward a more abundant, flexible and affordable energy supply that is critical to the U.S. economy,” he said.

President George W. Bush issued a statement specifically on the energy component:

I commend Congress for passing the Outer Continental Shelf legislation, which will help to reduce our dependence on imported sources of energy by increasing access to domestic sources of oil and gas. Developing these reliable domestic resources in an environmentally sound manner will help address high energy prices, strengthen our energy security and protect manufacturing jobs. The bill also provides the producing States of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama a share in the royalty revenues from OCS leases. I appreciate the commitment by the State of Louisiana to use revenues from these leases to restore coastal wetlands.

Reps. John Peterson, R-PA, and Neil Abercrombie, D-HI, pushed the issue assiduously; without their efforts and willingness to compromise — they wanted greater access to OCS waters, the final bill would have never passed. A joint statement upon House action Friday:

“When it comes to passing important legislation around here, you learn to shoot for the stars in the hope that you might land on the moon,” Peterson said shortly after the vote. “I don’t know that we even approached the stratosphere with this bill, but I do believe it represents an important first step as we look for ways to build upon the foundation of support we were able to assemble this past Congress.”

“Natural gas is essential to the nation’s economy and brings some measure of relief to our disintegrating manufacturing sector, so passage of these provisions just makes sense,” said Abercrombie, who, like Peterson, serves on the House Resources Committee. “This legislation is also critical to the continued growth of our alternative energy industry, and the language ensures that Louisiana will have resources to re-establish critical coastal wetlands that can reduce the destructive impact of hurricanes on the region.”

The bill truly was bipartisan legislation and included strong regional support, as Gulf Coast Democrats like Sen. Mary Landrieu, sought revenue sharing and coastal reconstruction. Senator Landrieu issued a statement after the House vote.

A major accomplishment…for manufacturing, the environment, the economy and America.

NAM’s full statement is in the extended entry section of this post, below. It adddress trade, the extension and strengthening of the R&D tax credit, and Health Savings Accounts, as well.

UPDATE: This Christian Science Monitor story carries a useful map.


NAM PRAISES 11TH HOUR ACTION OF 109TH CONGRESS

TO SUPPORT MANUFACTURING

“This Legislation Is Good For Business and Consumers,” says Engler

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 9, 2006 — National Association of Manufacturers President John Engler today offered praise and gratitude to the 109th Congress for enacting legislation vital to manufacturing as it concluded its work and passed into history.

“In their final hours, members of the 109th provided America’s manufacturers a legislative shot in the arm, enacting important measures we have sought for the past two years,” Engler said.

In particular, Engler commended action allowing access to domestic energy supplies in the Outer Continental Shelf. “Exploring the OCS is an important step toward a more abundant, flexible and affordable energy supply that is critical to the U.S. economy,” he said.

Turning to trade, Engler also praised inclusion of a number of key trade initiatives, including the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB), the Generalize System of Preferences (GSP), the Andean Trade Preferences Act (ATPA) and Permanent Normal Trade Relations for Vietnam. “These are all critical trade programs for U.S. manufacturers and our trade partners in the development world,” he said.

The NAM also welcomed a seamless extension and strengthening of the research and development tax credit which is a proven innovation-spurring incentive used primarily by manufacturers, as well as provisions on health savings accounts (HSAs) that allow more employers to offer HSAs, and more employees to enroll in them.

“By sending the President legislation that increases our economic security and strengthens our competitiveness in the global marketplace, Congress has helped level the playing field for manufacturers,” Engler said. “This legislation is good for business and consumers.

“In its final hours, the 109th Congress has shown an impressive ability to work together,” Engler said. “We applaud their efforts and look forward to a similar commitment to results when the 110th Congress convenes next month.”