In 2001, President Bush released an energy plan that was widely criticized by environmentalists for failing to reduce U.S. dependence on oil or promote energy efficiency and clean renewable energy. For nearly five years a coalition of environmental, consumer, and other public interest groups blocked final passage of legislation to enact the President’s plan.
The House energy bill that re-emerged in 2005 shared many of the failings of President Bush’s initial plan, including such harmful provisions as:
> Opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling;
> Shielding manufacturers of the toxic gasoline additive MTBE from lawsuits for contaminating drinking water;
> Preempting the ability of states to regulate the siting of liquefied natural gas terminals;
> Exempting certain oil and gas drilling activities from the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act;
> Giving cities more time to reduce smog pollution without requiring them to put stronger pollution controls in place;
> Providing billions in tax breaks to oil companies at a time of record profits.
In addition, only 5 percent of the bill’s $8 billion in tax breaks would have promoted efficiency and clean energy; the rest was doled out to such polluting energy sources as oil, gas, and coal.
On April 21, 2005, the House passed H.R. 6 by a vote of 249-183 (House vote 1) A conference committee later combined H.R. 6 with a Senate companion bill, dropping some of the most controversial provisions, including Arctic drilling, MTBE liability shields, and smog cleanup delays. However, the new version still weakened key environmental protections for oil and gas drilling, added billions in new subsidies for coal, oil and nuclear power, and stripped states and local governments of their authority over liquefied natural gas terminal siting.
The House passed the conference report on July 28, 2005 by a vote of 275-156 (House roll call vote 445). NO is the proenvironment vote. The Senate also approved the report, which was signed into law by President Bush on August 8, 2005.