1997 Scorecard Vote
Coal is the most polluting fossil fuel. Emissions from coal combustion, including sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, contribute to the formation of acid rain, which damages forests, lakes, and streams. In addition, carbon dioxide produced from burning coal is a major contributor to global warming.
Since 1984, the Department of Energy's Clean Coal Technology Program has provided more than $1.5 billion in federal subsidies to private corporations to try to develop technologies for cleaner coal burning. The program provides up to 50% in federal matching funds for demonstration projects for these new technologies. This seemingly beneficial program is both ineffective and unnecessary. The program cannot significantly address the biggest problem with burning coal -- carbon dioxide emissions -- which cannot be substantially reduced at any feasible cost. In addition, the program has been unnecessary for several years because the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act provide sufficient market incentives to encourage utilities to reduce their emissions from burning coal. By providing incentives to continue using coal, the program reduces incentives to pursue more environmentally sound alternatives such as energy conservation, efficiency and alternative power sources. Nevertheless, the program has strong support from the businesses that participate in the program and from those states that benefit from the infusion of federal dollars for these projects.
On July 11, 1997, Rep. Scott Klug (R-WI) offered an amendment to H.R. 2107, the Fiscal Year 1998 Department of the Interior appropriations (budget) bill, to cut $292 million from the program in addition to the $100 million already cut by the House Interior Appropriations subcommittee. The King amendment failed 173 - 243. YES is the pro-environment vote.
The Senate passed H.R. 2107 on September 18, 1997, and President Clinton signed the bill into law on November 14, 1997.