Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) made the following statement today concerning his vote against H.R. 6, the Energy Policy Act of 2005:
”The first generation of U.S. environmental laws and regulations enacted in the 1960s and early 1970s were state-of-the-art public policies at that time. They cleaned up air and water, and were rightly emulated in much of the developing world. They also gave rise to a new sector of the economy: thousands of jobs were created in the construction of water treatment plants and other infrastructure necessary to meet the new environmental standards. Yet the bill that is before the House today does not have the same vision for the future as these bills had.
It should be a top national security priority of the United States to significantly reduce its consumption of foreign oil, yet the Republican-sponsored bill, does virtually nothing to stop this foreign dependence. In fact, traditional energy sources such as oil and natural gas reap 93 percent of the tax incentives in this bill, equivalent to $7.5 billion. In fact, this bill would provide more than $22 billion to the oil, gas, and other energy industries in tax breaks, direct spending and authorizations. Meanwhile, renewable energy and conservation initiatives receive only 7 percent.
We must invest in emerging technologies, renewable energy, and energy efficiency and conservation. It is vital for our economy that our country’s economic growth is not constrained by the price of oil. 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. For example, the U.S. wind power generation capacity of 6,370 megawatts – enough for approximately 6 million homes – is dwarfed by Germany’s 14,600 megawatts. 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.
Finally, this bill is anti-environment. I, along with many of my Democratic colleagues, voted for an amendment that would strip the provision to allow the drilling of gas and oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. We were not successful. Once drilling is allowed in one of the most natural, pristine places in the country, where will our environment be protected? In fact, this bill makes it easier for oil drilling in the protected areas off our coastlines as well.
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 none of this, and I had to vote against the Energy Policy Act of 2005 for these reasons.”