2004 Scorecard Vote
President Bush's national energy plan, first 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. H.R. 6, a bill based on the president's plan, was laden with more than $37 billion in corporate tax breaks and subsidies for the coal, oil, nuclear and natural gas industries. It would have:
- weakened vitally important environmental laws like the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act;
- opened up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling;
- given the Secretary of the Interior authority to exempt oil companies from paying for drilling rights on public lands;
- slighted clean, efficient energy technologies and left the currently weak automobile fuel efficiency standards in place;
- shielded makers of the gasoline additive MTBE from lawsuits for contaminating drinking water; and
- exempted all oil and gas construction activities from having to control polluted stormwater runoff.
In April 2003, the bill passed the House largely unamended, and in July 2003, the Senate passed a mildly better energy bill. The House-Senate conference committee then added a provision to give polluted urban areas more time to meet Clean Air Act targets without having to implement stronger air pollution controls, as well as a $6 billion production tax credit to help jump-start the nuclear industry. The House agreed to the conference report.
In an effort to pressure the Senate to act on the conference report, the House leadership brought an identical bill (H.R. 4503) to a vote--essentially a second vote on the report. On June 15, 2004, the House approved the bill by a 244-178 vote (House roll call vote 241). NO is the pro-environment vote. The Senate later approved billions of dollars in tax credits for the coal, oil and gas, and nuclear industries but failed to pass an overall energy bill.