Good News, Bad News: Congress Passes Historic Clean Energy Bill, But Hands Out Billions to Dirty Industries

Benefits From Cleaner Cars and Fuels Could Be Wiped Out by Subsidies to Coal and Nuclear Interests
WASHINGTON, DC (December 18, 2007) – Today, Congress passed energy legislation to invest in the production of safer, cleaner biofuels and ensure that new cars will go farther on a gallon of gas. These measures promise to save Americans a significant amount of money at the gas pump and reduce global warming pollution, according to experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The energy bill passed the House by 314-100, and is expected to be signed into law by the president on Wednesday.
“We handed Congress an ambitious agenda for clean energy at the beginning of this year, and this bill represents real progress in achieving cleaner cars, fuels, and appliances,” said Karen Wayland, legislative director at NRDC. “We will continue to fight for the rest of our clean energy agenda when Congress returns, starting first with incentives for renewable electricity.”
The bill raises fuel mileage standards for the first time in more than 30 years, creates critical energy-efficiency lighting and building standards, and ensures essential environmental safeguards for biofuel development. Alone, each aspect is significant, and combined they provide a down payment to reducing global warming pollution.
Unfortunately, the Senate last week stripped the bill of provisions that would have allowed Americans to get 15 percent of our electricity from renewable energy sources, and required dirty, polluting energy companies to pay their fair share of taxes.
In addition, just hours before approving the energy bill, the House passed the 2008 omnibus spending bill that would direct $30 billion in taxpayer money into subsidies for dangerous, costly, and polluting industries, specifically nuclear power and coal.
“Even though Congress is making serious strides towards moving clean energy legislation, it’s clear from the omnibus bait-and-switch that we have not completely broken the hold that dirty, polluting industries have in Congress,” Wayland said. “The reductions in global warming pollution from the energy bill could very well be wiped out by the new sources of pollution funded by the appropriations bill, such as liquid coal, which creates twice as much carbon dioxide pollution as gasoline.”
“NRDC’s energy and climate experts will redouble their efforts to work with Congress next session to create sound energy policy that will grow the American economy and limit global warming pollution to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change,” Wayland said.