Members of the Sustainable Energy Budget
Coalition today endorsed President Clinton's threat to veto the
Interior and HUD/VA Appropriations Bills. In addition, it called
upon Congress to reverse the deep cuts it has made in Fiscal Year
1996 (FY'96) sustainable energy program budgets and to drop a
series of energy regulatory riders now under consideration. The
Coalition also urged the White House to prepare a Fiscal Year
1997 budget request for federal sustainable energy programs
comparable to its original FY'96 request thereby sending a strong
message to Congress about Administration priorities.
The Coalition issued its call in light of the all-out
assault on renewable energy (i.e., solar, wind, biomass,
geothermal, hydroelectric) and energy efficiency programs by
congressional leaders and their corporate supporters that
threatens to destroy the sustainable energy industry and prevent
any future advances. The Coalition charged that Congress
apparently prefers to send Americans to war to protect foreign
supplies of oil as well as open the environmentally sensitive
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) than to invest in
sustainable energy technologies. For example:
- The House and Senate have voted to slash funding for the
U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) FY'96 renewable energy programs
by up to 30 percent below FY'95 levels while energy efficiency
programs, such as the Golden Carrots, state energy grants, and
low-income weatherization assistance programs, would be cut even
more deeply. The "Green Lights," "Energy Star Computers," and
other successful, voluntary energy efficiency and pollution
prevention programs in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
have also been the targets of some congressional budget-cutters.
By comparison, funding for nuclear and fossil fuel programs would
be trimmed by no more than 15 percent.
- The House Ways and Means Committee has proposed to
eliminate the 1.5 cent per kilowatt-hour production tax credit
for wind energy and "closed loop" biomass energy plants -- a
program "savings" of only $90 million over five years. In
addition, the tax exemption given to ethanol and its derivative
ether, ETBE, would be cut back and eliminated respectively.
Rebates given to businesses by utilities for the installation of
energy conservation equipment would become taxable. Meanwhile,
multi-billion dollar tax breaks for the fossil fuel industries --
such as percentage depletion allowances ($3.4 billion over 5
years), nonconventional fuel production ($5.8 billion over 5
years), and intangible drilling costs ($2.5 billion over 5
years), foreign oil tax credits ($5 billion a year) and section
29 gas credits (estimated at $1 billion/year) -- remain intact.
- Both houses of Congress have voted to prohibit DOE from
issuing new appliance efficiency standards in FY'96 and are
expected to eventually target them for elimination altogether.
Similarly, a proposed legislative rider to the Transportation
Appropriations bill would prohibit the issuance of new fuel
efficiency standards for light trucks. In addition, both houses
have proposed to lift the speed limits for cars on interstate
highways thereby increasing fuel consumption and highway
- Legislators, joined by a large group of major electric
utility companies, have also targeted the 1978 Public Utilities
Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA) -- the primary federal law
promoting the expansion of renewable energy technologies -- for
repeal. Simultaneously, Congress is accelerating the siting of
environmentally unsafe radioactive waste storage facilities and
seeking to open ANWR for oil drilling.
- At the state level, utilities and utility regulatory
commissions are pursuing utility restructuring schemes that
undermine demand-side management programs, put renewables at a
competitive disadvantage with fossil fuels, and raise costs for
The energy efficiency and renewable energy programs being
targeted by Congress help support more than 45,000 jobs
nationwide (in addition to tens of thousands more created in the
private sector) as well as provide more than $1.7 billion in
federal and private funds combined, according to a study, "Penny
Wise, Pound Fuelish," released by the Sustainable Energy Budget
Coalition in June.
With continued cost-effective support, energy efficient and
renewable energy technologies are poised to make major
contributions. Energy efficiency has reduced projected energy
use by over 30 percent since 1975 while renewable energy now
accounts for nearly 10 percent of domestic energy production.
Moreover, over the past two decades, these technologies have
experienced marked price drops and are now cost-competitive with,
and often cheaper than, conventional energy sources.
On the other hand, continued reliance on traditional fossil
fuels poses a range of health, environmental, and economic risks.
For example, oil imports now exceed 50 percent - an all-time high
- adding $60 billion annually to the U.S.'s balance-of-trade
deficit while domestic production has dropped. Furthermore,
health and environmental risks posed by air and water pollution
and radioactive waste continue unabated. Finally, there is
growing evidence of global climate change suggested by growing
carbon dioxide emissions, record-setting temperatures throughout
the past fifteen years, and the increasing prevalence of
hurricanes, floods, and droughts.
Not surprisingly, a recent national public opinion survey,
"Energy: Post-Election Views," commissioned by the Sustainable
Energy Budget Coalition found that voters - Republicans,
Democrats, and Independents alike - overwhelmingly agree that
funding priority should be given to renewable energy and energy
efficiency programs and that funding cuts should target nuclear
and fossil fuel programs.
Consequently, members of the Sustainable Energy Budget
Coalition are urging President Clinton to veto the Interior and
HUD/VA appropriations bills unless funding is restored for DOE's
energy efficiency programs and retained for EPA's voluntary
"green programs" (as provided for by a recently- approved
amendment to the Senate's HUD/VA Appropriations bill).
Furthermore, the Coalition is pressing the White House to fight
the proposed regulatory riders, tax "reforms," accelerated
radioactive waste program and the opening of ANWR, and repeal of
PURPA that would undermine the nation's sustainable energy
programs. Finally, to demonstrate its continued commitment to
sustainable energy programs, the Coalition is urging the White
House to submit a FY'97 budget request for its energy efficiency
and renewable energy programs comparable to the FY'96 request but
which also provides for deeper cuts in DOE's nuclear fission,
nuclear fusion, and fossil fuel programs.
The Sustainable Energy Budget Coalition is a non-profit coalition
of nearly 40 national environmental, business, governmental, and
other energy policy organizations founded in 1992 to encourage a
shift from fossil fuels and nuclear power to energy efficient and
renewable energy technologies.
Contact: Ken Bossong, 301-270-2258; Bill Magavern, 202-546-4996 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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