House Energy Bill Passage a Huge Win, But More Work to Be Done

Dec. 6, 2007

House Energy Bill Passage a Huge Win, But More Work to Be Done

Statement of Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen

It’s about time. Today’s passage of the energy bill by the House of Representatives takes a great step toward moving America to a new energy future, particularly considering what the measure started as. More work must be done, but we are at least moving forward and not backward, as we did with the 2005 energy bill.

The hallmark of this energy bill is a requirement that the combined fleet of cars and light trucks achieve 35 miles per gallon by 2020 – a minimal requirement compared to the technology available. This will greatly help reduce the country’s oil consumption, sparing consumers pain at the pump, and will help the environment. In the end, even the auto industry approved of this and said – as we have for quite a while – that it could meet the new requirement.

The bill also rightly revokes $13.5 billion in recently awarded subsidies for the oil industry. This is an appropriate reduction in unnecessary corporate welfare for an industry that is dripping in dollars and soaking consumers every day. In addition, the bill no longer contains $50 billion in loan guarantees for the nuclear industry, which would have propped up a dangerous and expensive form of energy. Further, the measure establishes the first-ever renewable electricity standard, requiring utilities to procure or produce 15 percent of their power needs from renewable energy sources by 2020.

However, we would have liked to have seen more focus on households and small businesses in the bill’s renewable energy provisions. And a provision that expands the Price-Anderson Act, which would shield the nuclear industry from accountability for overseas accidents, in addition to domestic accidents, is unconscionable. There is no price tag available for this under-the-radar provision.

While we are cheered by today’s vote, the oil industry still has friends in the White House – President Bush has threatened a veto – and Senate, and is pressuring lawmakers to derail this measure. Senators shouldn’t let their arms be twisted. We urge them not to let this historic opportunity to improve America’s energy future slip away.

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