Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) made the following statement today on the Energy Conference Report:

“The Energy Conference Report, while containing some good policies that are the product of bipartisan compromise, does not do enough to shift U.S. energy policy away from old fossil fuels and subsidies, to clean and fuel efficient energy proposals and initiatives.

This conference report is disappointing and in effect preserves the status quo. America continues to be too heavily dependant on foreign oil and this bill does too little to lessen our dependence. There are some provisions contained in the bill that are visionary and lead American energy policy in the right direction. For example, a provision by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) promotes the production of biofuels, which will one day help lessen our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil.  Her plan promotes the development of ethanol and biodiesel from a wider variety of crops, agricultural waste or even algae. Numerous studies have shown that alternative energy sources such as these can one day help provide the economic and environmental security that this country needs and deserves.

Another noteworthy provision included in the bill was a two-year extension of the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) for qualified wind energy generation facilities. I wrote a letter to Chairman Bill Thomas asking that this important provision be included in the final report. Over the last decade, wind energy generation technology has grown enormously, allowing turbines to become more efficient and generate more power. A multiple-year extension will promote this technology and help end the boom and bust cycles that have put several wind energy pioneers out of business.

Alternative energy sources such as biofuel and wind are important, but this bill does not take these initiatives or those like them far enough. In addition, this bill contains billions in subsidies for fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas; subsidies that do not make sense if we are serious about switching to alternative energy sources and lessening our dependence on foreign oil.We must be prepared to invest in forward-thinking and emerging technologies, renewable energy, and energy efficiency and conservation.

This bill is also fiscally irresponsible, containing $11 billion in subsidies that are not off-set by reductions in other spending. With a projected federal deficit of over $400 billion, we cannot afford to continue to pass spending bills and tax cuts that are not offset.

The Bush Administration’s backward-looking energy and environmental polices have left the United States ill-equipped to compete with other nations in the booming global market for environmentally clean technologies. We can, and should, do better. By making investments in emerging technologies and renewable energy resources, the United States has the potential to be a net exporter of renewable energy, not an importer of foreign oil.

The time is now for the United States to adopt a real energy policy: a policy that will invest in new technologies, new energy resources and that will increase our national security by decreasing our dependence on foreign oil. It is time for us to adopt an energy policy that not only makes the United States a net-exporter of renewable energy but that protects our environment as well. This bill does not go far enough, and it is for these reasons that I voted against the Energy Conference Report.”