Energy Bill a 'Waste of Energy', Says NRDC

WASHINGTON (July 26, 2005) -- With the House-Senate Conference Committee reporting out comprehensive energy legislation, environmentalists are left wondering, "What's the point of an energy bill that doesn't save energy?" The following is a statement by Karen Wayland, legislative director for Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):

"Congress has failed to deliver a responsible energy policy that moves America towards energy independence and energy security while providing affordable energy and a clean environment. By every measure, the energy bill put forth by this Congress turned out to be not just a missed opportunity but a huge waste of energy. In fact, clearly nothing good can come from this bill, so why the rush? We urge Congress to quit while it's behind and put the brakes on what really is an energy bill in name only.

"Everyone agrees that the energy bill must reduce America's growing dependence on oil and lower energy prices for consumers. Most also believe that we should invest aggressively in U.S. technologies to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy sources that can create jobs. And reducing global warming pollution is of paramount importance. To this we would add that any energy bill must safeguard America's natural resource heritage and local economies by protecting special places, such as our western public lands and fragile coasts. To protect taxpayers, the also should eliminate subsidies for polluting industries.

"Unfortunately, the energy bill produced by Congress fails to take any steps to make us more secure by putting us on a path to energy independence; in fact, it will prolong - -and possibly worsen -- our dangerous dependence on oil.

"As Congress and even the White House have acknowledged, the bill won't relieve the pain consumers are feeling at the gas pump.

"Despite the huge threat the world faces from global warming, the bill fails to establish mandatory limits on carbon dioxide air pollution. "Instead of investing heavily in clean energy solutions, the bill doles out billions of our dwindling tax dollars to polluting industries -- including oil companies that are raking in record profits at our expense.

"The energy bill also further subsidizes nuclear power, which remains uneconomic despite $80 billion in federal subsidies. Nuclear power poses a range of other unresolved problems as well, such as potential theft and terrorist use of nuclear materials, public health risks associated with uranium mining and long-term leakage from underground waste repositories.

"Americans no doubt also will be shocked to learn that the energy bill undermines protections for our health and our water supplies, and destroys communities and treasured public lands across the West, by exempting the powerful oil and gas industry from basic protections under the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

"And by requiring the federal government to do an expensive offshore oil and gas 'seismic inventory' that threatens marine life, the bill takes the first step toward ending 24 years of protections for our coasts and beaches. Even marine sanctuaries would be open to energy exploration under this provision.

"So we're left with an energy bill that hurts, not helps. No thanks."