A No-Solution Energy Bill

In response to the Western energy crisis, the large Northeast blackout and US joblessness, Congress is pushing an energy bill that offers no solution. The bill, which is expected to be voted on Friday, is bad for workers, bad for consumers and bad for the environment.

In a time when the country should be moving toward bold investment in new technologies and sustainable energy, the energy bill bolsters the power of big oil at the expense of emerging industries and conservation. The bill that emerged from conference cut initial proposed funding for alternative energy technologies, making it more difficult for America to toward a positive energy future.

While US workers continue to lose jobs, Japan, Canada and European countries are rapidly growing renewable energy industries. These are jobs that could be employing US workers; however, Congress is failing to enact a comprehensive strategic energy policy that creates jobs. The same people who brought us a jobless economic recovery are bringing us a jobless energy bill.

Not only does the bill fail to create American jobs, but it puts an even larger burden on working families. The bill repeals the Public Utilities Holding Company Act (PUHCA), an act that makes electricity reliable and affordable for working families. Enacted in 1932, PUHCA has been a cornerstone of consumer protection designed to prevent abuse by large holding companies. Once again, the Republican Congress led by the Bush Administration has put corporate profits above consumer protections.

At the same time, the energy bill threatens the air we breathe and the water we drink. The bill contains provisions that shield producers of MTBE, a chemical responsible for water contamination -- from product liability -- shifting the burden away from the polluters and on to the health of working families. According to the US Conference of Mayors this move could cost working Americas $29 billion in water clean up costs not to mention the negative implications that such a measure has for public health. The bill provides little to no incentives for conservation and fuel efficiency, once again putting the environmental protection and public health on the back burner.

To make matters worse, it is not just Congressional Republicans that are the culprits of this economic, environmental and health disaster; some in the democratic leadership are wavering and may be beginning to support the backward-looking measure.

It is time for all political parties to unite around a positive energy and economic policy, one that creates jobs, lessens the burden for working families, and preserves the environment. In the wake of rolling blackouts, economic crisis and environmental degradation, the American people need forward looking solutions, not more of the same failed policies.

Visit the Apollo Alliance to to encourage your elected representatives to vote against the energy bill.

Bracken Hendricks is the executive director of the Apollo Alliance for Good Jobs and Energy Independence and the Director of the New Growth Initiative at the Institute for America's Future. Skye Perryman is a policy fellow at the Institute for America's Future in Washington DC.

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