1984 Scorecard Vote
Unless and until new pollution control technologies are invented, the commercial development of synthetic fuels made from coal or oil shale will create massive environmental problems. These include air pollution, groundwater contamination, and toxic waste disposal. A single commercial synthetic fuels plant could produce from 20 to 60 thousand tons of solid waste a day. Yet in a frantic response to the oil crises in the 1970s, Congress appropriated $17.7 billion not for research but for immediate commercial development of synthetic fossil fuels.
Despite the huge subsidies available, private industry has become less and less interested in developing synthetic fuels, because they cannot be produced cheaply enough to compete with other energy sources in the foreseeable future. The Synthetic Fuels Corporation (SFC), which was set up by Congress to spend the money, has unfortunately responded by indiscriminately funding the few remaining synfuel proposals, regardless of merit. By providing up to $3 million for a single technology, the SFC is promoting far larger projects, with far greater environmental damage, than are needed to test the projects' technical and economic feasibility.
This vote determined whether amendments to cut back the SFC's spending authority would be permitted. Adoption of the "rule" forbidding any such amendments was rejected 148-261; July 24, 1984. NO is the pro-environmental vote. (Adoption of the rule, H. Res. 551 providing for floor consideration of the fiscal 1995 Interior Appropriations bill, H.R. 5973.) The Reagan Administration opposed the rule. In the end Congress cut over $5 billion of SFC's authority.