NRDC Says Senate Energy Bill Promotes True Energy Security

WASHINGTON (February 27, 2002) -- The Senate energy bill introduced by Sens. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) would dramatically improve America's national energy security, expand the market for cleaner energy technologies, and reduce pollution generated by traditional energy sources, according to NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).

"The Daschle-Bingaman energy bill charts a positive vision for our country that relies on American technological know-how to develop energy sources that are cleaner, faster and cheaper than traditional dirty fuel sources," said Dan Lashof, science director for NRDC's Climate Center.

The Energy Policy Act (S. 517) will help Americans to purchase vehicles that go farther on a gallon of gas. Fuel-efficient cars and trucks will help ensure our national security by reducing our dependence on imported oil, half of which comes from the Middle East and other unstable regions. Raising vehicle fuel economy will also help reverse the dangerous growth of global warming pollution -- itself a serious threat to our security.

The Energy Policy Act would:

  • improve automobile fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2013 -- the single biggest step towards U.S. energy security and decreased dependence on Middle Eastern oil;

  • provide significant incentives for consumers to purchase advanced gasoline-electric hybrid and fuel cell-powered vehicles;
  • offer incentives for power companies to increase use of energy produced from clean, renewable sources like wind and solar, and for builders to improve the energy efficiency of our homes and offices; and
  • expand the use of renewable energy sources by requiring retail electricity suppliers to purchase 10 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.

Just as important is what the legislation does not include -- opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development. According to government figures, refuge oil would increase world reserves by less than three-tenths of 1 percent -- not enough to make a significant dent in our imports. Overall, the United States holds only 3 percent of known world oil reserves -- and consumes 25 percent of the world's produced oil. Half of our current imports come from the Middle East and other volatile regions of the world.

"Despite what the big oil companies and their friends in Congress want people to believe, we can't drill our way to energy independence," said Lashof. "We must reject attempts to turn America's national treasures -- such as the Arctic Refuge and other protected wild lands -- into oil fields, especially when there are better solutions." In January, NRDC and the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a report on energy independence, Dangerous Addiction: Ending America's Oil Dependence.

The Daschle-Bingaman energy bill stands in stark contrast to the House energy package (H.R. 4), which favors the failed energy policies of the past, says NRDC. The House bill would provide more than $34 billion in new subsidies to fossil fuel and nuclear industries, increase our dependence on foreign oil by failing to increase fuel economy standards, and encourage oil development in the Arctic Refuge and other wild and special western lands.

"We can't afford to miss out on the opportunity to adopt a cleaner, more sustainable energy future for this country," said Lashof, "one that promises greater national, environmental, and economic security than the worn-out energy policies of the past."

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
Dangerous Addiction: Ending America's Oil Dependence