1978 Scorecard Vote
H.R. 5289, 5146, 4018, and 5263. The vote is on whether to adopt the five energy conference reports, which had been welded together into one big package. The Congressmen were not able to vote on the different provisions separately, but only on the package as a whole. The Act contained a whole host of energy conservation measures that have been supported by environmentalists. These included: (1) $900 million in grants to schools and hospitals for energy conservation investments; (2) grants and loans to low income families for the same purpose; (3) tax credits to homeowners and businesses for energy conservation equipment; (4) bigger tax credits of up to $2,200 for installation of solar and geothermal energy equipment; (5) mandatory energy efficiency standards for home appliances; (6) a steadily rising tax on gas guzzling cars; and (7) some fairly weak utility rate reforms to encourage energy conservation. State Utility Commissions had to consider charging less for electricity consumed in off-peak hours, and to eliminate discounts for big energy users.
Environmentalists wholeheartedly endorsed these measures although they had mixed feelings about other parts of the bill. New industrial and utility power plants were required to convert from oil or gas to an alternative fuel, most probably coal. All utilities had to convert by 1990. The most controversial provisions allowed a partial decontrol of gas prices. For the first time, price controls were applied to gas produced and sold in the same state, to free up gas that was being held off the market in Texas and Louisiana. The price of newly discovered natural gas sold interstate was allowed to rise 10% a year until 1985, when price controls would be lifted altogether. Environmentalists were split on this issue. The higher gas prices encouraged consumers to use energy more efficiently, but they gave gas producers too high a profit based on charging OPEC prices for American energy. Some of our friends in Congress voted against the package because of their opposition to lifting price controls. But the League decided to score this vote anyway, because the national environmental groups who lobbied on the issue had supported the package taken as a whole, and because this represented the only meaningful energy conservation vote we had in 1978. The Carter Administration strongly supported the package. Adopted 231-168. October 14, 1978. YES is the correct vote.