Yesterday, a letter opposing the energy bill was sent to Congress, signed by the following environmental groups: Alaska Wilderness League, American Rivers, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, National Audubon Society, National Environmental Trust, Natural Resources Defense Council, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, U.S. PIRG, and Union of Concerned Scientists.

The full text of the letter is below the break.

Energy “Bill Wouldn’t Wean U.S. Off Oil Imports” — Washington Post, July 26, 2005

July 27, 2005

Dear Senator:

We strongly urge you to oppose H.R. 6, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and do anything in your power to prevent this harmful legislation from becoming law. America needs a new direction on energy policy that reduces our oil dependence, invests in clean energy technology and curbs global warming. Sadly, the energy bill conference report (H.R. 6) fails to achieve these goals. Instead of taking the country forward, the energy bill harms public health, the environment and consumers.

As reported in yesterday’s Washington Post article “Bill Wouldn’t Wean U.S. Off Oil Imports,” the energy bill “would not significantly reduce the country’s need for foreign oil.” Ben Lieberman, energy analyst at the Heritage Foundation predicted that “we’ll be dependent on the global market for more than half our oil for as long as we’re using oil, and the energy bill isn’t going to change that.” Lieberman noted that the provisions “to increase domestic production … would not do much.”

America needs to decrease its dangerous dependence on oil. This continued dependence not only harms public health and the environment, but also compromises national security.

Instead of charting a bold vision for America’s energy future, H.R. 6 undermines a wide range of hallmark environmental and consumer protections. The bill includes exemptions to the Safe Drinking Water Act for oil and gas drilling and the Clean Water Act for construction related to oil and gas development. Moreover, the bill opens up coastal areas that have been under moratorium for decades to a harmful seismic inventory of oil and gas resources in sensitive Outer Continental Shelf areas. It also contains a MTBE provision that could be used to disadvantage communities and states that wish to seek redress for contaminated drinking water in any new suits filed in state courts. The bill stacks the deck against having NEPA review of a broad range of oil and gas activities, making it much more difficult for the public to have meaningful input. Further, it threatens wildlife and subsistence values of the 23 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

H.R. 6 is a bad deal for consumers. Even President Bush agrees that the bill will do nothing to reduce gasoline prices in the near-term. It is also unlikely that the bill will have a significant impact on long-term gasoline prices. The bill repeals the Public Utility Holding Company Act, the main law to protect consumers from market manipulation, fraud, and abuse in the electricity sector. H.R. 6 also showers billions in subsidies on the oil, gas, nuclear and coal industries. The subsidies to the oil and gas industries are especially egregious given that they are awash in record profits. President Bush recently stated that “With oil at more than $50 a barrel … energy companies do not need taxpayer-funded incentives to explore for oil and gas.”

As you know, the conferees agreed to H.R. 6 early [Tuesday] morning and the bill is scheduled for floor action this week. It is unconscionable that the Senate would vote on a 1,700 plus page bill without having adequate time to read and carefully consider the long-term harmful impacts of this legislation.

We strongly urge you to do everything in your power to oppose H.R. 6. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Cindy Shogan
Executive Director
Alaska Wilderness League

Frances Beinecke
Executive Director
Natural Resources Defense Council

Rebecca Wodder
President
American Rivers

Joan Claybrook
President
Public Citizen

Rodger Schlickeisen
President
Defenders of Wildlife

Carl Pope
Executive Director
Sierra Club

Vawter Parker
Executive Director
Earthjustice

Bill Meadows
President
The Wilderness Society

Brent Blackwelder
President
Friends of the Earth

Gene Karpinski
Executive Director
U.S. PIRG

John Flicker
President
National Audubon Society

Kevin Knobloch
President
Union of Concerned Scientists

Phil Clapp
President
The National Environmental Trust