- October 16 - Statement of Debbie Boger, Deputy Legislative Director, Sierra Club.
The anticipated announcement by Senator Domenici(R-NM)
and Rep. Tauzin (R-LA) that a "deal" has been reached on the Energy bill does nothing to change the fact that this bill still puts America's communities at risk. The result of this "deal" isn't a compromise; this isn't moderate; it's purely a give-away to polluting industries. While Republicans predictably removed two particularly outrageous provisions from this bill (drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and exploring America's coasts for oil and gas), it still leaves the public with more air and water pollution, greater oil dependence and an outdated electricity grid.
The energy bill takes us backward by drastically increasing oil and gas drilling on public lands, providing liability protections for polluters, giving billions of dollars in subsidies to polluting fossil fuel and nuclear industries, exposing consumers to market manipulation, increasing our dependence on oil, in addition to doing nothing to increase our use of renewable energy or curb global warming.
The Bush-Administration backed energy bill also puts communities across the country at risk by letting polluters off the hook when they use a toxic gasoline additive known as MTBE. MTBE is a carcinogenic substance that can easily leak into groundwater. The energy bill removes liability from polluters who knowingly use the toxic chemical.
Additionally, the Bush energy bill does almost nothing to ensure that we use more renewable energy like solar and wind for our electricity and that we increase the energy efficiency of our buildings, homes, and appliances. In addition, it wouldn't adequately prevent against further power outages. And the bill repeals the key law that protects consumers from market manipulation by energy companies. This 75-year old law ensures that electric utilities cannot pass unrelated debts onto their consumers.
The Sierra Club urges Congress to reject the energy bill because there's a better way. We can reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We can cut pollution. We can produce more of our electricity with clean, renewable energy like wind and solar power. At the same time, we can protect our special places and ensure that corporations do their part to protect our health and safety. This bill does not get us there.