2003 Scorecard Vote
President Bush's national energy plan, released in May 2001, was strongly criticized by environmentalists for encouraging environmentally destructive practices while doing little to provide Americans with clean, efficient sources of energy. Although the House passed a bill based on his plan in 2001, the Senate passed a slightly better energy bill in 2002 and the two bodies failed to reach agreement on a final bill before the 107th Congress adjourned.
Early in 2003, House leaders again introduced a bill based on the president's energy plan, H.R. 6. The bill was laden with more than $37 billion in corporate tax breaks and subsidies for the coal, oil, nuclear and natural gas industries. It would also have given the Interior Secretary authority to exempt oil companies from paying for drilling rights on public lands, and it included a provision to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The House bill also largely failed to advance clean, efficient energy technologies that would enhance our national energy security and failed to increase automobile fuel efficiency standards. The bill also undermined clean water protections by shielding makers of the gasoline additive MTBE from existing lawsuits for contaminating drinking water in 1,500 communities in 28 states, and exempting all oil and gas construction activities--including roads, drill pads, pipeline corridors, refineries, and compressor stations--from having to control polluted stormwater runoff under the Clean Water Act.
During House floor consideration of H.R. 6, bill opponents tried unsuccessfully to amend some of the bill's more destructive provisions (House votes 2, 3 and 4). On April 11, 2003, the House approved H.R. 6 by a 247-175 vote (House roll call vote 145). NO is the pro-environment vote. LCV considers the H.R. 6 to be among the most anti-environment pieces of legislation passed in recent history and has chosen to score this vote twice to reflect the significance of the issue.
Following passage of H.R. 6, the Senate passed a slightly better energy bill prior to the August congressional recess. However, when the House-Senate energy conference convened early in the fall of 2003, it quickly abandoned the Senate's bill in a process that essentially excluded both House and Senate Democratic leaders. The result of this one-sided process was an energy conference report that environmentalists argued included the worst provisions of both bills but also included a provision that had not passed either the House or Senate that would give polluted urban areas more time to meet Clean Air Act targets without having to implement stronger air pollution controls, placing a significant burden on states and communities downwind of those areas. The House quickly passed the energy conference report, but the Senate has yet to approve it (Senate vote 1).