- October 2 - Statement of U.S. PIRG Legislative Director Anna Aurilio.
Instead of providing immediate and sustainable solutions to current energy problems, President Bush's energy plan and the energy bills now in conference will make the U.S. even more dependent on the old and dirty energy sources that created them. The Bush-Cheney energy plan, crafted in secrecy, and the resulting legislation, now being negotiated behind closed doors, will increase drilling in coastal areas and public lands, repeal important electricity consumer protections, increase taxpayer subsidies for coal and nuclear power. Now the conferees are also considering provisions to shield oil and chemical companies for liability for groundwater contamination.
These proposals are dirty, dangerous and don't deliver for consumers. These bills allow the oil, coal and nuclear industries to dig deep into our pockets, while giving them a growing pile of "get-out-of-jail-free" cards.
The Bush-Cheney energy plan and bills now in conference would:
Drill for oil on some of America's most pristine wilderness areas, including the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, while leaving greater energy savings that could be achieved by increasing automobile miles per gallon standards using existing technology on the table.
Repeal important electricity consumer protections and trample on states' rights for transmission line siting;
Limit states' ability to block oil and gas exploration and drilling off sensitive coastlines.
Ignore the potential for clean renewable energy to meet 10% of America's energy needs by 2020, despite a letter from 53 Senators supporting this policy;
Squander up to $18 billion in taxpayer subsidies to the oil, coal, gas and nuclear industries;
Insert new hurdles to increasing auto fuel economy standards while renewing a loophole in the fuel economy law that allows cars capable of running on ethanol to claim fuel economy credits even though most of them do not currently use it; and
Fail to require any reduction in global warming pollution even though clean energy technologies could reduce this pollution while saving consumers money.
Further, the conferees have added or are now considering additional controversial provisions that were not even in the Bush-Cheney energy plan such as:
Threaten currently protected coastlines with oil and gas exploration and drilling, despite opposition from Florida Governor Jeb Bush and many Congressional leaders such as House Appropriations Chair Young (R-FL);
Letting the oil and chemical industries off the hook for polluting groundwater with the gasoline additive MTBE, shifting an estimated $30 billion in cleanup costs from polluters to taxpayers;
Allowing up to $2 billion in taxpayer dollars to be used in cleaning up gasoline and chemical spills from underground storage tanks, while letting polluters off the hook for cleaning up.
America is at a crossroads. We have a choice between the dirty, unsustainable and unreliable sources of energy being promoted by industry lobbyists in Washington, or pursuing a smarter, cleaner energy future for America's consumers.
U.S. PIRG is the national lobbying office for the State Public Interest Research Groups. State PIRGs are non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy groups.
The policy paper and more information on U.S. PIRG's Campaign for a New Energy Future can be found at www.newenergyfuture.com.