It’s Time for a Knockout: Round III of the Energy Bill Features More of the Same Giveaways to Corporations, Does Not Protect Consumers or the Environment

April 5, 2005

It’s Time for a Knockout: Round III of the Energy Bill Features More of the Same Giveaways to Corporations, Does Not Protect Consumers or the Environment

Statement by Joan Claybrook, President, Public Citizen

Note: Today, the House Energy and Commerce Committee holds a full mark-up of the draft energy legislation.

The latest energy bill – this one a draft released by House Energy Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas) – offers more of the same failed proposals that have doomed energy legislation in the past two Congresses. It showers nuclear and oil companies with subsidies, gives polluters a break from protecting the environment and promotes further electricity deregulation while doing nothing to protect consumers from high energy prices.

Indeed, oil prices continue to soar despite Congress passing a billion-dollar subsidy in October 2004 to encourage more domestic energy production and its March 16 budget vote to open Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. You would think that such a radical change in federal oil production policy (the successful Senate vote represented the first time in 24 years that the Senate has approved the measure) would send a clear signal to oil traders in New York. But the prices of oil and gasoline have only skyrocketed since the vote, raising doubts about the claim by the Bush administration and Congress that giving energy producers what they want will somehow lower prices for consumers.

Energy prices are at record highs because recent mergers have left domestic oil and gas markets uncompetitive (this week’s proposed merger of ChevronTexaco and Unocal certainly won’t help) and the energy traders that set prices are left largely unregulated. The bill not only lacks any requirement for strong fuel economy standards to cut back on overconsumption, but it attempts to undercut strong standards in the future by limiting the basis for issuing them. It also extends – rather than ends – a harmful credit to auto companies that sell dual-fuel vehicles, whose tanks in fact are usually filled only with gasoline.

In addition, the draft energy bill ends the ability of states to have adequate input in the siting of controversial Liquefied Natural Gas facilities. To read Public Citizen’s analysis of the bill, click here.

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