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Pallone Opposes Energy Bill Conference Report

November 18, 2003
Press Release

Washington, D.C. --- U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, voiced his opposition today to a final energy conference report that he says does nothing to cut our long-term dependence on foreign oil and does very little to encourage the development of valuable renewable resources. The New Jersey congressman issued the following statement today before the House voted 246 to 180 to approve the conference report.

"The American people should not be fooled by Congressional Republicans claims that this legislation will lessen our dependence on foreign oil, reduce the cost of energy in this country and create a reliable electricity supply. Instead, this legislation is nothing but a payback to the oil and gas industry numbering in the billions of dollar imbedded in tax incentives, loan guarantees, liability protection and research and development.

"This bill will not wean us from our foreign oil dependence and instead it includes numerous provisions that undermine current environmental laws, such as the Clean Water Act, that we have worked hard to implement and enforce over the past thirty years. For example, this bill gives oil and gas companies a permanent exemption from having to obtain a permit to control storm water runoff caused by construction activities at drilling sites. Furthermore, the bill exempts hydraulic fractioning practices from the Safe Drinking Water Act, threatening drinking water supplies, public health and the environment.

"This energy legislation comes at a time when we should be encouraging cutting-edge renewable energy initiatives, promoting efficiency technology programs and advancing, not retreating, on environment laws that protect the health of the American people from the impacts of traditional fossil fuel energy use.

"Unfortunately, this is not the approach the Bush administration and my Republican Congressional colleagues followed when they met in backrooms over the last couple of months drafting this final conference agreement. Instead, they have taken this opportunity to close the door to Democrats in order to silence visionary ideas that would focus on the development of new energy technology rather than resorting to the placement of oilrigs or drilling pads on every segment of our public lands and off our coasts.

"While we were successful in removing damaging language requiring an inventory of reserves off the coast of New Jersey, Republicans are taking away states ability under the Coastal Zone Management Act to have a say in federal projects off their coasts. This bill also circumvents environmental review for the storage of liquefied natural gas facilities off our coasts and basically bribes coastal states to accept coastal drilling through increased revenue sharing provisions. The Republicans hold no regard for the OCS moratorium or the sensitive nature of our coastal ecosystems.

"Furthermore, I believe the production of energy and the reduction of air pollution can mutually coexist. A recent report showed that every county in New Jersey has dirty air, and rather than addressing this problem, Republicans choose to seriously undermine the Clear Air Act by giving cities more time to ignore pollution before they are required to implement more stringent standards. The health of the American people is of no consequence to Congressional Republicans.

"Finally, I am appalled that this bill includes language that lets polluters off the hook for contaminating groundwater with the gasoline additive MTBE and other fuel additives. In New Jersey, we have had a serious problem with MTBE polluted wells, and this legislation will essentially allow this problem to escalate because there will no longer to an incentive for producers to end their polluting ways. Polluters will no longer be responsible for cleaning up their messes, instead, that responsibility will be pushed to the American taxpayer, costing an estimated $29 billion.

"I oppose this energy bill because I believe its nothing but 1,300 pages of giveaways to an industry that in turn pads the pockets of the Bush reelection campaign. This bill is not only harmful, but it is shameful and devastatingly costly to the American people."