The energy bill easily passed the Senate today (July
29, 2005) by a vote of 74-26. The bill now goes to Bush
for his signature.
WASHINGTON, DC, July 29, 2005 (ENS):
The House of Representatives passed the Energy Policy
Act of 2005 Thursday by a vote of 275 to 156. Most yes
votes came from Republicans, with a few dozen Democrats,
and most nay votes came from Democrats, with a few dozen
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called the measure
"anti-taxpayer, anti-consumer, and anti-environment."
Still, she said it could have been worse but for the
actions of Democrats on the House-Senate conference
committee that reconciled the two versions of the bill.
"We kept the heat on the MTBE give-away and the
massive roll-back of the Clean Air Act until they were
withdrawn," Pelosi said. "We fought to protect
the Arctic National Refuge, making it too hot for the
Republicans to handle - forcing them to withdraw from
the energy bill their plan to drill in the pristine
"Nonetheless, like its predecessors, this energy
bill is a missed opportunity. It does not address the
issues that the American people care about - lower gas
prices at the pump, a healthy environment, safe water
to drink, and cleaner air.
"It is anti-taxpayer with billions of dollars
in gifts to the oil, gas, and nuclear industries, including
a new production tax credit for eight years.
"Then there is the special gift for House Majority
Leader Tom DeLay. After the gavel went down on the energy
bill conference, a provision was included that sets
up a special $1.5 billion fund for the oil industry
to conduct research on how to find oil, and a leading
contender to host the consortium is Sugar Land, Texas,"
she said. Sugar Land is the major city in the Texas
district DeLay represents.
Consortium members, including Halliburton and Marathon
Oil, can receive awards from the fund, explained Pelosi,
saying, "There you have it: big oil, Halliburton,
and Tom DeLay, all in one neat symbolic package."
"At a time when Congress is trying to scrape together
enough federal funding for veterans' health care, Social
Security, education, Medicare, and Medicaid, why are
we giving away taxpayer money hand over fist to well-established,
profitable companies? she asked.
"The energy bill is anti-consumer. It fails to
protect consumers from high gasoline prices. It fails
to adequately protect consumers from price manipulations
and future Enrons. And it fails to protect our national
security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
"Last but not least, this bill is anti-environment.
It carves out exemptions for the oil and gas industry
from the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Clean Water
Act. It also authorizes an oil and gas inventory of
the Outer Continental Shelf, opening the door to oil
and gas drilling in the protected areas off our shores."
Environmentalists were disappointed that a national
renewable energy standard was omitted from the legislation.
The standard, proposed by Senator Bingaman, a New Mexico
Democrat, would have required utility companies to obtain
10 percent of their power from renewable sources by
Although the Senate Energy Conference members gathered
unprecedented support for the measure, including that
of Republican Senators Pete Domenici of New Mexico and
Orrin Hatch of Utah, the House Energy Conference members
rejected the measure. Representative Joe Barton of Texas,
who chaired the conference committee, led the removal
of the renewable energy standard from the bill.
But the measure does include a renewable fuel standard
for the first time. It mandates the production and use
of 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol by 2012, which is
estimated to displace over two billion barrels of crude
oil. Proponents say America has a strategic reserve
of motor fuels in the cornfields of Illinois, the rice
fields in California, and the cane fields of Florida.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2005. All