Carper Opposes Energy Bill
But Urges Lawmakers To Finish the Job Concerns Raised Over Environmental Provisions
WASHINGTON â?? Troubled over the inclusion of a handful of harmful environmental provisions, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., today joined 39 other senators, including 7 Republicans, in successfully blocking the Senate from considering a massive energy policy bill. With today’s vote, the future of the energy legislation, which passed the House earlier this week, is in doubt and could be dead for the year. “We must enact a comprehensive energy policy, and we need it now more than ever. We need to increase our domestic energy production, lessen our dependence on foreign oil, and reduce our consumption by embracing the promise of renewable energies,” said Carper. “This bill fails to do that, while also including a host of special-interest provisions that could weaken our clean air and water laws. That’s not the kind of bill I can support.” However, Carper said the bill could be improved â?? and passed — if lawmakers were willing to stay in session this year and work out a bipartisan proposal. “Unfortunately, this bill was not written in true bipartisan spirit,” said Carper. “We should recommit ourselves to crafting a more balanced energy package that can garner the support of both parties, even if it means abandoning our holiday plans and staying in session to get the job done.” Specifically, Carper objected to several provisions in the bill that would weaken environmental standards in Delaware and across the country. Among them is language to: â?¢ Delay by three years compliance with federal smog standards. Carper, the senior Democrat on the Senate clean air subcommittee, said the provision could hurt Delaware’s air quality by relaxing pollution-reduction standards on states that are “upwind” from Delaware. â?¢ Provide liability protection for makers of the gas-additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), which has contaminated drinking water reserves across the country. Carper also criticized the bill for failing to provide the necessary incentives for an Alaskan natural gas pipeline, which is needed to help reduce dependency on natural gas imports. “The bill provides incentives to build a pipeline, but it inexplicably fails to provide adequate price support for the natural gas the pipeline is intended to carry,” said Carper. “As a result, several companies that own the rights to the natural gas said they would not proceed without those supports. An empty pipeline does little good.” Despite those concerns with the legislation, Carper did point to several provisions that would benefit Delaware and the rest of the country if they were included in a more balanced energy package. For instance, the legislation would increase mandated sales of renewable fuels, such as ethanol and soy biodiesel, from 2 billion gallons annually to some 5 billion gallons by 2012. The bill also provides tax credits for solar and wind energy, as well as for the purchases of hybrid and electric-powered cars. The legislation would also encourage production of clean nuclear power and set new energy-efficiency standards for appliances and homes. “Despite its problems, the bill is not without merit,” said Carper. “These kind of provisions â?? ones that help the environment, benefit our farmers, and encourage new technologies â?? are what the energy bill should be based on.” Carper called on lawmakers to reconsider a host of other provisions as they attempt to rework the energy bill so that it can pass Congress. Among the items Carper said he would like to see included in a final energy package is a meaningful increase in vehicle fuel-economy standards, a renewable portfolio standard for electricity generation, and a registry to track greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to global warming.