Dems Discuss Energy Options

Democratic leaders in the House discussed the possibility on Wednesday of offering a comprehensive energy package when Congress returns in the fall, according to leadership aides.

Details remain hazy from the Wednesday afternoon conference call, and one aide cautioned that "no final decision [was] made."

But it seems clear party leaders are crafting a comprehensive energy package that would combine a Republican priority to open new offshore sites for oil and gas exploration with Democratic priorities, like tax subsidies for renewable sources of energy or new requirements for energy producers to generate more power from renewables, like wind and solar power.

There was also some discussion on the call about including a repeal of tax subsidies for some of the biggest oil companies, one aide said. Democrats kicked off 2007 by passing a measure that would rescind nearly $14 billion in tax subsidies from the biggest oil companies in order to pay for alternative energy projects. Thirty-six Republicans backed that measure, despite strong opposition from the White House and members of the oil industry. It remains stuck in the Senate.

Energy wasn't the only topic discussed; Democratic leaders also talked about the conflict between Russia and Georgia. The top leaders in both parties issued a statement on Tuesday condemning Russia's military actions in Georgia. But the party's next step in the energy debate was the focus of the call, according to aides.
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