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Rahall Energy Bill Becoming Contentious Issue

Rep. Nick Rahall's, D-W.Va., energy bill has the support of some environmental groups, but is drawing fire from critics which now include the Chamber of Commerce.

The Energy Reform and Revitalization Act of 2007, introduced in the House by Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is drawing both strong support and harsh criticism.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the latest to speak against the bill, saying Tuesday that the legislation would hurt petroleum production in the U.S. as well as suppressing wind energy development.

According to a letter to lawmakers from chamber vice president of government affairs Bruce Josten, the bill "not only fails to produce a single kilowatt of energy, but also threatens to reduce, and in some sectors eradicate, energy production."

Environmental groups like the bill in large part, and some are working with Rahall's office to make adjustments so that the wind power market could continue to grow.

The support from environmental groups is especially based on the bill's oil and gas provisions. The bill would cut parts of the 2005 energy act that were meant to promote oil and gas development on public lands, instead reinstating environmental impact assessments and repealing fast-track drill permits for oil and gas development on federal lands.

Another section of the bill targets wind energy, enacting stricter regulations to prevent wind energy projects from harming wildlife. According to American Wind Energy Association senior director of government and public affairs Gregory Wetstone, the bill could result in "an immediate halt to all new wind projects."

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