Energy Bill Won't Help at the Gas Pump
– Energy Secretary Sam Bodman told American motorists not to expect lower gasoline prices to follow quickly with this week's expected passage of the energy bill, reported Reuters. The energy bill, submitted to the House for a vote, includes $14.5 billion in tax breaks and incentives over a decade, according to the House Ways and Means Committee. Of that, nearly $9 billion is earmarked for oil and gas production, electricity reliability and coal technology projects. "It's going to take a number of months, if not years, to deal with energy prices," Bodman said. He said the legislation will encourage long-term investment by the private sector in new nuclear power plants, coal-fired electric generating facilities and drilling for more oil and natural gas supplies. The national average gasoline price hit a record high of $2.33 per gallon two weeks ago, according to the Energy Department's survey of retail stations. The Senate is expected to approve the bill this week, so President George W. Bush can sign it into law next week. Environmental and consumer groups criticized the energy legislation for doing little to cut U.S. oil consumption, which averages close to 21 million barrels a day, or to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil suppliers. "This bill funnels billions of taxpayer dollars to polluting energy industries, and opens up our coastlines and wildlands to destructive oil and gas activities," said Carl Pope, director of the Sierra Club. Democrats were expected to approve it, despite complaints that the final version dropped some environmentally friendly measures. Eliminated were proposals that U.S. utilities use more wind and solar power, a ban on the fuel additive and suspected carcinogen MTBE, and a requirement that the White House find savings of 1 million barrels of oil by 2015. Lawmakers are also frantically working to get a transportation bill shaped prior to the August recess.