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Public Citizen to Senate: Stop This Energy Bill Train Wreck

Feb. 6, 2004

Public Citizen to Senate: Stop This Energy Bill Train Wreck


Statement by Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen


Not content to allow a successfully filibustered energy bill to die a well-deserved death, U.S. Senate leaders are now considering resurrecting this atrocity from its grave and gluing the pork-laden bill to a transportation bill that is destined to pass in an election year when senators don’t want to be accused of failing to bring jobs and money to their states.

What we are seeing is the failure of our democratic system, thanks to the relentless force and influence of special interests. The energy industry has contributed more than $70 million to the campaigns of federal politicians since 2001, with nearly three-quarters of that amount going to Republicans, who control Congress. This process began when Vice President Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force met in secret with corporate lobbyists; next came an energy conference hijacked by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), with virtually no input from the other members of the committee as the bill was rewritten and dollar giveaways enlarged. Worse still, members of Congress had little time to read all of the special interest provisions in the bill as it was rushed to votes in both chambers.

As we have urged before, lawmakers must acknowledge defeat of this monstrous energy bill and begin again with a clean slate – this time, without the input of an industry more interested in profits than in providing for our common future needs. Even this trimmed-down energy bill with no MTBE liability waiver is not worth passing. Instead, Congress should focus on creating an energy plan that reflects the needs of our country and our environment: clean, safe and affordable energy for every person.

If the energy and transportation bills go hand-in-hand for a vote, the special interests win, as each senator will have an interest in supporting some piece of the bill. Such maneuvering is a reckless act that threatens to derail the trust the public has in the lawmaking process. Anyone who is paying attention should be outraged.