(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today voted against the House-Senate Energy Bill Conference Report, H.R. 6, the Energy Policy Act of 2005. While pleased with investment in Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the removal of MTBE liability protections, Murray opposed the bill due to its failure to move our nation away from dependence on foreign oil and roll backs in clean water laws and environmental protections. The bill passed the Senate 74-26.
Murray’s statement in opposition to the Energy Bill follows:
“Today I voted against H.R. 6, the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
I do so because this bill fails to move us beyond the status quo of today’s energy situation. Congress rarely steps forward to address our nation’s energy policy and I believe when we do so we should provide real direction that addresses real problems. Unfortunately, that is not the case here.
I voted for the bill as reported by the Senate, but only narrowly. A few provisions in the Senate bill attempted to address our need to promote renewable energy resources and decrease our consumption of foreign oil. Those few forward-looking provisions have been dropped from this final bill, leaving me with little choice, but to vote no for our failure to truly provide some new direction to our nation’s energy policy.
Crafting comprehensive energy policy should offer the opportunity to address the most difficult issues facing our country. The bulk of this bill sidesteps those tough issues and in place of solutions it offers band aids. Moving toward independence from foreign oil should be a top priority, but it is not addressed meaningfully.
Climate change is a serious issue that Congress simply refuses to address. While some voluntary measures are included, these are simply not enough. We must have meaningful action if we are to protect our health, environment, and economy of our country.
Gone from this bill is the renewable portfolio standard promoted by the Senate. The Senate’s provision would have increased the penetration of alternative energy sources. This bill also fails to take adequate steps to develop conservation and efficiency technologies and yet it offers substantial subsidies to the fossil fuels industry.
This is not the bill I would have written and this is no longer a bill I can support.
There are sections of the bill that are positive. For example, I am pleased that the conference bill contains provisions protecting the Pacific Northwest’s electricity system from unwarranted interference by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and protects Washington ratepayers from excessively high electricity rates. I am also pleased that the current bill contains a fair and balanced hydro-electric re-licensing process and sets new grid reliability standards. I commend my colleague, Senator Cantwell, who championed Washington state interests.
This bill in particular supports cutting edge research and development at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Washington state universities in the areas of smart energy, advanced scientific computing, and systems biology.
I am equally pleased to see that the bill does not provide MTBE liability protections.
As the world’s leading energy consumer, the United States should lead by example and innovation. However, this bill stops short of taking common-sense measures that would truly reduce foreign oil dependence and mitigate the looming threat of climate change. To diversify energy sources in America, fossil fuel use must be offset by conservation, energy efficiency and clean and renewable fuels.
Yet, proposals to set ambitious, yet achievable, targets for reduced oil imports, tighter fuel economies for cars and trucks were defeated. Instead, oil and gas companies will be allowed to scour our fragile coastlines for more oil and gas reserves. Furthermore, this bill awards multi-million dollar tax breaks to those same companies, which are reaping windfalls from record-high oil prices at the expense of Washington consumers, to continue us down the path of fossil fuels, which are a key contributor to climate change. This bill also rolls back significant clean water laws that keep our water safe to drink.
Despite ample protections for Washington ratepayers, it is hard to ignore that this bill, this national energy blueprint, does absolutely nothing to improve energy security or reduce dependence on foreign oil. We need a national energy policy, but one that acknowledges the needs for the future, sets a plan, and moves us forward. Not a bill that delivers the status quo.”