Apocalypse Soon

By the whopping margin of 74-26, the U.S. Senate approved the disastrous new energy bill which passed the House yesterday. The bill now goes to President Bush, who has said he will sign it into law. Features of the bill hasten our path toward energy oligarchy and heighten the prospect of new wars over scarce resources. Read the grim details from the following press release from the Nader watchdog organization, Public Citizen.

July 29, 2005

Senate Approves Energy Bill

Bill Now Goes to President Bush for Approval

The U.S. Senate today approved the energy bill conference report (H.R. 6, "The Domenici-Barton Energy Policy Act of 2005") by a vote of 74 to 26, clearing the legislation for approval by President Bush.

The bill is a smorgasbord of special-interest giveaways for the fossil fuel and nuclear industries, which received more than two-thirds of the tax breaks. The bill is not a forward-looking energy plan for the 21st century, but rather a behemoth booster for Big Energy. Attempts to block the bill ultimately failed. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) raised a point of order charging that the energy bill's steep price tag violates the Senate's budget rules, but the Senate voted 71-29 to waive the rules.

This bill, which will become law when the president signs it, does the following:

*Repeals the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA), a vital protection for electricity consumers. PUHCA prevents the massive consolidation of unregulated utility ownership and prohibits non-utilities -- such as oil companies, investment banks, and foreign companies -- from owning public utilities.

*Promotes a nuclear power relapse, lavishing the mature industry with billions of dollars in subsidies and other incentives that could cost taxpayers more than $13 billion.

*Federalizes the siting of liquefied natural gas importation terminals, stripping states of the right to oppose such projects.

*Provides $4.5 billion in tax breaks and more than $7 billion in authorized subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and eases environmental regulations for oil and gas drilling and refining.

*The bill will not reduce our dependence on foreign oil or reduce gasoline prices.

Absent from the final bill were measures to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration and a product liability waiver for producers of the fuel additive MTBE that has contaminated groundwater across the nation. Republican leaders have declared that they want to get these measures as part of other legislation.

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