Group says bill would threaten environment, wilderness areas and public health, and dramatically increase global warming pollution
WASHINGTON (August 1, 2001) - The House energy bill lawmakers approved today is a grossly unbalanced response to America's energy problems, according to NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). It would threaten the environment and public health, rip off taxpayers by subsidizing the worst polluting energy industries, despoil public lands, and exacerbate global warming.
"This bill is a license to drill, burn and pollute," said Alyssondra Campaigne, NRDC's legislative director. "Overall it represents a craven capitulation to the auto, oil, coal and nuclear industries at the expense of the environment and public health. If we increased average fuel efficiency to 40 miles per gallon we could save more than 15 times what oil companies could economically recover from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- and save consumers billions of dollars a year at the pump. Politics trumped science in the House today."
In particular, NRDC blasted the bill because:
- It offers a $33.5-billion gold mine of taxpayer-financed subsidies -- 75 percent going to coal, oil, gas and nuclear energy. Despite references to "energy efficiency" and "conservation," only a quarter of the bill's tax credits would go to promote greater efficiency or renewable energy sources.
- It would expand our reliance on coal, the dirtiest form of power generation, which would mean more deaths from particulate air pollution, more global warming, more poisoned water and more scarred land. The bill includes three provisions that promote so-called "clean coal" technology that add up to a 10-year, $6 billion program -- three times more than what the Bush energy plan proposed.
- It would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, even though that would yield only a six-month supply of oil spread over many decades.
- It offers only a sham increase in vehicle fuel efficiency -- equivalent to just one day's oil consumption per year -- even though the National Academy of Sciences has found that much larger increases would pay for themselves in fuel savings. Further, the tax credit for hybrid vehicles -- which originally scaled the size of the tax credit to the amount of mileage improvement -- has been grossly distorted by giving the full credit to minor improvements from the most gas-guzzling SUVs.
"There is a better way," said Campaigne. "The quickest, cleanest and cheapest way to meet our energy needs is a program that improves energy efficiency, increases fuel economy, and invests in clean, renewable energy sources."
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 500,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Related NRDC Pages
HR 4: A Bad Energy Bill