Editor's Note: 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 Republicans.
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of the Clean Air Act until they were withdrawn," Pelosi said.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 wilderness."
"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
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
"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 2020.
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 Rights Reserved.