Arkansas Delegation Likes Flawed Energy Bill

JULY 29, 2005 - Posted at 7:57 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A massive energy spending bill has passed the House, and Arkansas's congressmen and senators hope it can help state residents despite its flaws.

The bill sends more than $14 million in tax breaks and subsidies to energy companies, but is expected to do little to reduce U.S. oil consumption or immediately lower high energy prices.

That's okay to start, Congressman Mike Ross said.  He says there's no silver bullet to solve the energy crisis and the bill can help Arkansas soybean farmers who are participating in the budding biodiesel markets.

Senator Blanche Lincoln's provisions for tax incentives and funding for renewable diesel fuel development were included in a combined House and Senate bill.  So were Senator Mark Pryor's anti-global-warming measures and additional support for new hybrid fuels.

The House approved a bill that did not include President Bush's proposal for drilling for oil in the Alaskan wildlife refuge, which could have killed the bill in the Senate.  Republican Congressman John Boozman of northwest Arkansas said he was disappointed that was taken out, but also thought the bill was a good start.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)