Proposed U.S. Legislation Lacks Support for Renewables

A U.S. environmental group is attacking two federal bills that will harm public health and the environment.

WASHINGTON, DC, US, 2001-07-23 [] A U.S. environmental group is attacking two federal bills that will harm public health and the environment. The House Energy & Commerce Committee is debating a bill sponsored by Billy Tauzin of Louisiana that would increase power plant air pollution and subsidize coal and nuclear energy, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. The House Resource Committee is reviewing an energy bill sponsored by committee chairman, James Hansen of Utah, which undermines environmental safeguards and boosts the energy industry’s bloated profits. The Tauzin bill (Energy Advancement & Conservation Act) contains modest provisions for energy efficiency, but they hardly represent a comprehensive energy efficiency and renewable energy package, says NRDC’s Alyssondra Campaigne. It contains numerous provisions that would threaten the environment and public health, including costly financial credits for clean coal technologies. “Tauzin’s bill handsomely rewards the coal industry while failing to support sensible and achievable improvements in energy efficiency,” says Campaigne. “The bill offers no relief for consumers facing high energy bills, but guarantees they will be breathing more toxic air pollution.” By failing to require comprehensive controls on power plant pollution, the bill ignores the link between global warming and energy production. It lacks strong efficiency standards for appliances and buildings, funding to enhance investment in energy efficiency programs, and a requirement that 20 percent of U.S. energy be derived from renewable energy by 2020. The Hansen bill (Energy Security Act) calls for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and other environmentally sensitive public lands. It would override federal environmental protections on public lands, allow the oil and gas industry to seek federal reimbursement for costs associated with drilling on public lands, as well as for the costs of mandatory environmental compliance for oil, gas and geothermal development. “Americans want affordable energy and a clean environment, both of which can be achieved through a balanced national energy plan,” says Campaigne. “But the Hansen bill is a payback to the energy industry, which shoveled millions into Republican campaign coffers last year. Our energy policy should not focus on padding industry profits at the expense of environmental protection.” Earlier this year, NRDC published a comprehensive energy plan to show that U.S. energy needs can be met through greater reliance on renewable energy, energy efficiency and natural gas.