House Energy Bill Shirks Security Challenge, Keeps Us Hooked on Oil Imports

Corporate Giveaways Plunder Arctic & Wilderness, Leaving Energy Thirst Unchecked; Measure Lifts Safeguards Against Electricity Fraud, Nuclear Proliferation

WASHINGTON (April 11, 2003) -- The mammoth energy bill passed by the House of Representatives today would leave America dangerously addicted to oil imports. Instead of safe, clean, cost effective solutions, lawmakers voted to give nearly $20 billion in subsidies to the oil coal and nuclear power industries to continue business as usual. The measure would also open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, and eliminates safeguards protecting coastal and wilderness areas from reckless energy development.

"House lawmakers have abandoned all responsibility for America's energy and economic security. The bill is a payoff to big energy companies that sacrifices pristine wilderness as well as fundamental safeguards protecting Americans where they live and work," said Alys Campaigne, Legislative Director at NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council).

House members voted down numerous amendments encouraging clean, efficient technologies offering faster, cheaper, cleaner solutions to the nation's energy challenges. They blocked measures to increase automobile fuel economy performance, and to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling. Instead of the successful tax credits for clean and efficient gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles that can boost fuel economy by 50 percent, the House bill gives tax breaks to polluting diesel trucks.

"We can break the chain of oil addiction," said NRDC Senior Scientist Dan Lashof. "Better technology in our cars and trucks could save 2 million barrels of oil a day, more than we import from Saudi Arabia and three times the amount we get from Iraq. Better electricity technology could keep our economy humming without the deadly pollution of today's power plants."

The House bill also allows oil and gas exploration on sensitive coastal lands, and undermines laws ensuring a public say in how public lands are used for energy development, leaving landowners, ranchers and others powerless to protect their land and water from irresponsible oil and gas development.

At a time when nuclear security concerns are at their highest, the House bill reverses long-standing non-proliferation policy against reprocessing waste from commercial nuclear reactors. Instead of developing safe, clean energy solutions, the bill gives away $18 billion in subsidies to aging fossil fuel industries. Despite massive corporate abuse in the electric industry, the House bill repeals the Public Utility Holding Company Act, the main law protecting businesses and consumers from fraud and market manipulation.

The Senate is expected to take up its energy legislation next month, with tough fights expected on renewable energy, fuel economy improvements, climate change, and electricity restructuring.

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 550,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Related NRDC Pages

Dangerous Addiction: Ending America's Oil Dependence