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Statement By U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer On The Energy Bill

July 29, 2005

I voted against this Energy Bill because it doesn’t do enough to reduce our dependence on foreign oil through the promotion of alternative forms of energy or by encouraging energy efficiency.

I was very disappointed that the Conference Committee eliminated the Senate’s renewable portfolio standard, under which utilities would have provided ten percent of their total sales from renewable resources by 2020. In addition, the Conference also eliminated the Senate provision that called on the President to find ways to reduce oil use by one million barrels per day by 2025, as well as the provision promoting hybrids for use in federal, state, and other vehicle fleets.

I am also very concerned about an authorization for an inventory of energy resources in America’s Outer Continental Shelf, which is damaging in itself and may lead to future oil and gas development in some coastal areas.

Overall, this bill is very imbalanced. The bill provides $5.7 billion in tax incentives over 10 years for the fossil fuel industry and $1.5 billion in subsidies and tax breaks for the nuclear industry. Compare this to tax incentives for renewable electricity, alternative vehicles and fuels, energy efficiency, and energy conservation, which were cut from $11.4 billion in the Senate bill to $5.8 billion in the final bill.

On top of it all, there was a $1.5 billion special interest gift in this bill for oil and gas "research."

With all of these bad provisions, I am pleased that a few good provisions survived, such as my amendment calling on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to conclude action on energy crisis refunds by the end of the year or report to Congress explaining what it has done and specifying a timetable for the rest of their process.

I am also pleased that this Energy Bill will exempt California from the proposed new ethanol mandate during the summer months, when ethanol usage in gasoline can increase air pollution, and that it included my original proposal to encourage the production of ethanol from agricultural waste.

Republicans removed many provisions from the Senate bill that would have put us on a more energy efficient path, and unfortunately we were left with a bill that does not offer the sound and innovative policies we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, protect the environment, and improve our energy and fuel efficiency.

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