FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 8, 2001
U.S. PIRG, Matthew Davis (617) 899-4699 (cell) (617) 747-4424
Senator Collins' Press Office, Megan Sowards (202) 224-2523
Maine Center for Economic Policy, Christopher St. John 622-7381
Endless Energy Corporation, Harley Lee 847-9323
Natural Resources Council of Maine, Sue Jones 622-3101 x215
National Environmental Trust – Maine, Susan Sargent 629-9446
Physicians for Social Responsibility- Maine Chapter, Raina Rippel 772-6714
House Energy Legislation Forces Taxpayers to Pay for Pollution
PORTLAND, MAINE — Taxpayers would foot the bill for $38 billion in tax breaks and other giveaways to big oil, electric utilities and nuclear power under energy legislation passed by the US House of representatives in early August, according to a new report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) Education Fund.
"These giveaways to polluting industries would not only waste taxpayer dollars but also would do virtually nothing to provide for America’s energy future," said Matthew Davis, New England Field Organizer of U.S. PIRG. "The House energy plan simply is out of balance with America’s current priorities. The vast majority of the bill supports dirty energy sources, while devoting barely a quarter of its subsidies and tax breaks to energy efficiency and renewable energy," he added.
U.S. PIRG’s report, Polluter Payday, found that these handouts could have profound implications for Maine’s taxpayers. U.S. PIRG estimated that the tax breaks and subsidies in the bill would cost Maine’s taxpayers almost $175,634,403 over the next ten years—almost equal to the $181,000,000 in tax rebates mailed out to Maine’s taxpayers in 2001. In contrast, U.S. PIRG identified more than 100 corporations in polluting industries that could benefit from the House energy plan’s handouts. U.S. PIRG found that these corporations recorded revenues in excess of $1.6 trillion in 2000.
"A comprehensive energy plan should operate within the current economic climate. Especially now with a slow-down and a shrinking budget, all expenditures must provide a good stimulus for local economies," said Christopher St. John of the Maine Center for Economic Policy. "Maine’s taxpayers would not benefit from tax breaks and subsidies to large oil, electric utility and nuclear power. However, energy efficiency program funding will help consumers save while supporting local businesses," he explained.
"When you take into account all the subsidies and high costs of extracting fossil fuels from inaccessible and politically unstable areas, wind energy is vastly less expensive," said Harley Lee of Endless Energy Corporation. "Wind energy is at the forefront of clean, renewable power, and has great potential as an in-state, secure means of electricity generation," he added.
U.S. PIRG also strongly denounced the recent actions by some Senators to attach dirty energy policies to federal anti-terrorism legislation in the name of national security.
"Those pushing for a plan to address energy and national security are partially correct," said Alison Cassady, U.S. PIRG’s Research Director and author of the report. "America does need a long-term national energy policy. But the House energy legislation, which will only deepen our dependence on oil and other polluting sources, is not the answer," continued Cassady.
"We're counting on Senators Snowe and Collins to reject oil, coal, and nuclear industry efforts to rush their legislation through Congress by wrapping the flag around it," said Susan Sargent, National Environmental Trust - Maine. "Senate allies of the oil, coal, and nuclear industries have repeatedly pledged to attempt to move their energy legislation before Congress adjourns, even if it means delaying other legislation related to the war effort."
U.S. PIRG encouraged Senator Snowe and Senator Collins to continue to stand strong against the fundamentally flawed House energy legislation and to champion proactive policies for cleaner, more affordable energy solutions that benefit consumers rather than polluters.
A representative from Senator Collins' office promoted the Clean Power Act (S.
556), which was written and introduced by Senator Collins and other senators.
"Obsolete power plants using 1950's technology with minimal emission controls
are polluting our air and posing a threat to public health," said Collins. "A
comprehensive energy plan should promote modern, energy efficient technologies
that save consumers money while keeping our air clean."
Echoing the need for cleaner air, Dr. Lani Graham, former Maine Public Health Director and member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, said, "Maine has a high incidence of asthma and other respiratory ailments, which are caused in part by air pollution. This burden on our health care system is preventable: we need to increase air quality standards at older plants."
Brownie Carson, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine said "The nation’s energy future must start by setting pollution limits for old, dirty power plants, and continue by promoting clean, renewable power and energy efficiency programs. To fail to do so is to jeopardize the health of American citizens."
"Increasing energy efficiency and producing more energy from clean, renewable sources will help reduce the vulnerability of our energy supplies, create jobs, save consumers money and protect the environment," stated Davis.
U.S. PIRG is one of the nation’s leading public interest advocacy groups, with over 1,000 members in Maine.
The full text of this report is available at www.newenergyfuture.com.