Editorial Columns Rip the Proposed Energy Bill

The final specifics of the proposed 2003 Energy Bill have emerged from behind their closed-door, Republican-controlled, conference committee sessions. As was expected by many, the overarching bill lavishly subsidizes the mature fossil fuel and nuclear industries while offering far less to the renewable energy industries. Despite the imbalance, the myriad clean energy industries have almost unanimously spoken out in support of this sweeping legislation. Many critics from the environmental community, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Natural Resources Defense Council, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and countless others have spoken out against the bill. The nation’s top newspaper editors, who strive to make sense out of this cacophony of noise, have largely sided against the new energy bill, taking issue with both the final legislation and the questionable process that created it. The following excerpts from Op-Ed columns from around the country highlight this perspective.

November 19, 2003 – The final specifics of the proposed 2003 Energy Bill have emerged from behind their closed-door, Republican-controlled, conference committee sessions. As was expected by many, the overarching bill lavishly subsidizes the mature fossil fuel and nuclear industries while offering far less to the renewable energy industries. Despite the imbalance, the myriad clean energy industries have almost unanimously spoken out in support of this sweeping legislation. Many critics from the environmental community, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Natural Resources Defense Council, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, and countless others have spoken out against the bill. The nation’s top newspaper editors, who strive to make sense out of this cacophony of noise, have largely sided against the new energy bill, taking issue with both the final product and the questionable process that created it. The following excerpts from Op-Ed columns from around the country highlight this perspective. – Renewable Energy Access.com Energy Bill Editorials from November 18, 2003 “A bill setting out a national energy policy should encourage conservation, investment and new technology; increase available energy; make the distribution system more reliable; and reduce pollution from burning fuel. The energy bill unshrouded Monday by congressional Republicans is, at best, half of a loaf that’s been dropped repeatedly in the dirt. As the Chronicle noted earlier, this bill tries too hard to please commercial and parochial interests and too little to advance the national interest.” — Houston Chronicle, “This proposed energy bill is half a loaf, half-baked,” November 18, 2003 Access: The Houston Chronicle “President Bush seems to have been the recipient of poor intelligence again. Last weekend, he claimed that the energy bill approved by Republican leaders would make the country ‘more secure.’ Senator John McCain’s description of the bill as a ‘leave no lobbyist behind’ barrel of pork for selected industries and campaign contributors was closer to the truth. So was Senator Robert Byrd’s unsparing judgment that the bill would ‘do about as much to improve the nation’s energy security as the administration’s invasion of Iraq has done to stem the tide of global terrorism.'” — New York Times, “A Shortage of Energy,” November 18, 2003 Access: The New York Times “The bill does not, for example, provide a clear direction for the development of the electricity grid: Although it contains language that seems to encourage the formation of regional commissions that could better manage the grid, it also contains provisions that discourage utilities from joining them. (That sounds contradictory, and so it is: Senators at the conference were openly confused by some of the measures.) The bill also does not encourage the U.S. car industry to manufacture vehicles that consume less fuel and produce fewer pollutants. Outside of a few provisions on electrical appliances and heating systems, the bill does not significantly encourage energy conservation. Although it would help increase short-term energy supplies, the bill will not wean this country from oil and gas imports.” — Washington Post, “Depleted Energy,” November 18, 2003 Access: The Washington Post Other recent editorials: “In the end, the bill that emerges from the conference committee is likely to be more of a tax-cutting bill for industry than an energy-providing bill for the public.” — Houston Chronicle, “RUNNING ON EMPTY,” November 11, 2003 “Americans need an energy bill, but not this one. It contains too much for those who would squander natural resources and not enough for those who would conserve them.” — Nashville Tennessean, “An energy industry bill that ill-serves consumers,” November 10, 2003 “This legislation amounts to energy folly, which would lead the nation in the wrong direction, guaranteeing energy crises to come.” — Harrisburg Patriot-News, “SHORTSIGHTED,” November 06, 2003 “The bill isn’t the ticket to national energy independence that its advocates claim. Rather, it would make the United States more dependent on fossil fuels by failing to adequately promote such renewable energy sources as hydrogen, solar and wind and to take advantage of energy conservation.” — Dallas Morning News, “Energy Bill Held Hostage,” October 28, 2003 “…the bill contains tax breaks and pork that does little toward a reliable nationwide power supply, conservation or import independence. Its energy is misdirected.” — Westchester Journal News, “Energy bill is fizzling,” October 27, 2003 “The bill is so stuffed with pork that the casing has split and some of the worst components of the omnibus legislation are leaking out.” — Concord Monitor, “Killing the bill,” October 21, 2003 “Once again, Congress and President George W. Bush have gone so far in the wrong direction on national energy strategy that the country would be better off if they shelve this effort. With minimal support for conservation and renewable energy, and big subsidies for the existing energy industry, the bill mispositions America.” — Detroit Free Press, “ENERGY RUT,” October 21, 2003 “If the bill were a serious vehicle for energy independence, it would launch an implacable search for a petroleum substitute, such as hydrogen. It would include a substantial and mandatory increase in the average fuel efficiency of cars and trucks. It would require that a significant percentage of U.S. electricity be generated from renewable sources… As presently written by the House and Senate negotiators trying to reconcile their competing versions, it would do none of these things.” — Dallas Morning News, “Waste of Energy,” October 16, 2003 “Indeed this nation needs an energy policy that serves those security needs and some others as well. What it is about to get, as far as can be judged, is a passel of specialinterest giveaways selected for the votes they will bring toward passage and the campaign contributions they will attract to next year’s GOP campaigns.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Energy bill,” October 14, 2003 “Wouldn’t a sensible nation address fuel-efficiency standards and tax loopholes for Hummers before thinking about drilling for oil off the country’s beaches?” — Press of Atlantic City, “OFFSHORE OIL DRILLING,” September 30, 2003 “The national energy bill is already barely worth passing. If an okay for Arctic drilling is put into it or the renewable standard is left out, the bill should be killed.” — Concord Monitor, “The heat is on,” September 30, 2003 “When House and Senate conferees finally cobble together an energy bill, it is likely to have far more of the House bill’s subsidies to the coal, gas, and oil industries than the Senate bill’s supports of conservation and alternative forms of energy.” — Boston Globe, “For renewable energy,” September 16, 2003 Editorials on the process of writing the Energy Bill “The simple plan to promote democracy within a Republic has been corrupted over time, not only by money and special interests, but by deceitfully clever mechanisms within the machinery of government.” — Cape Cod Times, “Abusing the process,” November 10, 2003 “This process is undemocratic even by Congress’s clubby standards. Even worse is the almost certain outcome: a tired compendium of tax breaks and subsidies for energy producers leavened by a few gestures toward energy efficiency.” — New York Times, “The Energy Bill Gets Worse,” September 29, 2003 “Congress is working on what is potentially the most sweeping energy legislation in decades – but it’s doing it largely in the privacy of a House-Senate conference committee monopolized by Republican lawmakers. The process must be opened wider than is usual with conference committees; the conferees have a broader assignment than usual and the crucial new law they’re writing shouldn’t be hatched in secret.” — Long Island Newsday, “Congress Shouldn’t Craft Big Energy Bill in Secret,” September 15, 2003

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