House Energy Bill is Consumer Rip-off

Aug. 1, 2001

House Energy Bill is Consumer Rip-off

Billions to profitable energy companies, no guarantees of lower prices

WASHINGTON, D.C. The energy bill (H.R. 4) scheduled for a vote tonight in the U.S. House shells out billions in subsidies to energy companies that have enjoyed record profits, but does nothing to protect consumers from price-gouging and profiteering by energy companies.

The legislation would dole out nearly $4.4 billion in subsidies to the nuclear industry, more than $7 billion to the coal industry and $24 billion to the oil and gas industries.

“All the billions in wasted taxpayer dollars still can t buy the nuclear industry a decent safety record or dispose of its radioactive waste securely,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. “And throwing billions more at the coal, oil and gas companies at the same time these sectors are enjoying record profits is terrible policy.”

The legislation is filled with ill-advised public giveaways to corporations that don t need and don t deserve corporate welfare, Hauter said. These subsidies include nearly $11 million to a uranium mining company with a deplorable safety and environmental record, and billions more to the coal industry to develop unproven and dirty new coal technologies. Taxpayers would also lose millions in royalty payments, because the House legislation allows some oil companies to drill on public lands without compensating taxpayers.

“President Bush s election campaign was heavily financed by nuclear, oil and coal interests, and now it s payback time,” Hauter said. “Many elements of this House legislation mirror the president s objectives. Unfortunately for consumers, it gives billions in subsidies to profitable corporations without lifting a finger to protect consumers from profiteering natural gas and electric power generators this winter.”

Instead of corporate welfare to rich corporations, Public Citizen advocates increased consumer protections through stronger anti-trust laws, more diligent policing of dysfunctional energy markets, and tougher fines for price-gouging.

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