Blackout Anniversary Prompts Energy Ads

Officials called for improvements to the power grid after the electricity went out in states and provinces across the Northeast and Midwest of the United States and Canada on August 14, 2003. But a year after the largest blackout in U.S. history, the Bush Administration and Congress have done nothing to prevent future electricity blackouts, according to new radio ads paid for by the coalition Save Our Environment.

Washington, D.C. – August 13, 2004 [] Blackouts left over 28 million people from Michigan, New York, Ohio, New Jersey and southern Canada without electricity for at least 24 hours, and up to four days in New York. Other major blackouts in the history of the United States ended after about 25 hours without electricity, making the 2003 event one of the longest outages on record. “The Bush Administration and Congressional leaders promote policies that could leave us in the dark again,” said Anna Aurilio, Legislative Director of U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG). “They are pushing an energy bill that leaves us at risk for future blackouts, while they squander taxpayer dollars on dirty fuels such as coal, oil, and nuclear power.” Save Our Environment is a coalition of 22 national environmental organizations and interest groups. The coalition will air ads called “In the Dark” on radio stations in the Ohio and Michigan cities that lost power during the black out to point out the current energy policy risks. The ad began airing in the five media markets 15 to 25 times a day from Wednesday, August 11 through Saturday, August 14. Since the 2003 blackout, Congress has attempted to pass bill H.R. 6, which many critics say focuses on disproportionately on oil resources, coal consumption, and nuclear power. The House of Representatives passed the bill twice, but each time the bill was blocked by the Senate. Democratic Representative John Dingell of Michigan and democratic Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington have introduced separate legislation, bills H.R. 3004 and S. 2014, but Congressional leaders continue to promote H.R. 6. Dingell and democratic Representative Tim Bishop of New York have also circulating a discharge petition that would force the House of Representatives to vote on H.R. 3004, if a majority of the House signs the petition. They have 169 out of 218 signatures required to force a vote, and will continue to seek signatures when Congress returns on September 7, according to Save Our Environment. Members of the coalition are hoping that the “In the Dark” radio ads will reach members of Congress before the September session begins. “These ads are a wake up call for the Bush Administration and Congress. They must act now to make electricity more reliable, renewable, and efficient,” said Debbie Boger, Deputy Legislative Director of Sierra Club. “Increased reliability, energy efficiency, and more renewable power will reduce the risk of future blackouts, create jobs, and reduce pollution.” List of stations the ads will run on: AKRON, OH: WAKR-AM, WKDD-FM, WNIR-FM CANTON, OH: WHBC-AM, WHBC-FM, WZKL-FM TOLEDO, OH: WKKO-FM, WRQN-FM, WRVF-FM, WTOD-AM KALAMAZOO, MI: WKFR-FM, WKZO-AM, WQLR-FM LANSING, MI: WILS-AM, WITL-FM, WJIM-FM, WFMK-FM
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