Energy bill only treats symptoms

This bill does nothing to fix the energy crisis, nor does it protect the environment.

The U.S. House voted Wednesday on its expansive energy bill, approving a plethora of ridiculous measures supporters – most of them Republican – think will solve the nation’s energy crisis. Unfortunately, the bill is just another attempt to fix the symptoms of a much larger issue rather than address the real problems.

The most offensive measure in the bill is the call for oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which would jeopardize a fragile, pristine ecosystem by bringing in heavy machinery and an infrastructure supporting drilling crews. While Senate Democrats promise to filibuster, it should not come to this.

The energy bill provides $8.1 billion in tax breaks in the next decade, most of which will benefit coal, nuclear and natural gas providers – not the renewable energy industry. Republicans also defeated a measure to increase fuel efficiency standards in the next decade, effectively condemning Democrats’ efforts to add some redeeming conservation measures to the bill.

The bill also shields the makers of MTBE, a gasoline additive that has contaminated drinking water, from any product liability suits and even gives it $2 billion for transition costs as the dangerous chemical is phased out. When chemical companies are not held accountable for their actions that harm people, the public stands to become one big guinea pig for an arsenal of potentially harmful agents.

In a sorry attempt to seem environmentally friendly, the bill requires billions more gallons of ethanol to be used as a gasoline additive. Unfortunately, this farmers’ subsidy just shifts the burden of pollution from cars to ethanol plants and does nothing but use our fossil fuels in producing ethanol instead of powering cars – nothing is gained there.

This bill does nothing to fix this country’s energy crisis; the House only seems intent on providing economic incentives to its energy-company friends. Gas prices will not go down; lawmakers will not encourage conservation as a viable way to reduce dependence on foreign oil. House Republicans are driving this country to hell in a petroleum-fueled handbasket faster than the Democrats can say “filibuster.”