Alliance to Save Energy Rebukes U.S.Senate For 'Pitiful Showing' On Energy Efficiency In Major Energy Bill

Release Date: Thursday, April 25, 2002

Senate Nearly Fails on Energy Efficiency

The Alliance to Save Energy today gave the U.S Senate a "D+" for making a "pitiful showing" on energy efficiency in its major energy bill (S. 517). By a vote of 52-47, the Senate adopted an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) which significantly weakened the bill's efficiency standards for central air conditioners.

"By voting today for the Harkin amendment, the Senate voted for more power plants, more pollution, and more money out of consumers' pockets," said Alliance to Save Energy President David M. Nemtzow. "It's a sorry day when the Senate votes down such a common-sense provision."

The Senate also rejected, 57-42, an amendment by Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) which would have required the Department of Transportation to reduce gasoline consumption by one million barrels of oil a day by 2015.

"These two provisions would have protected the nation's economic security, bolstered the reliability of the electric system, saved consumers billions of dollars, and significantly reduced pollution," Nemtzow said.

"The Senate has failed on fuel economy, missing an important opportunity to save more oil than the U.S. currently imports from Iraq and Kuwait combined," Nemtzow continued. "The amendment was no substitute for the fuel economy provision stripped from the original energy bill. But in failing to rise to the challenge of our severe vulnerability to oil supply disruption, the Senate has failed the American people.

"On energy efficiency, the Senate energy bill is redeemed only by its $3 billion tax package, an increased authorization for energy efficiency programs, and new, tough energy efficiency requirements for federal buildings and facilities," Nemtzow said. The tax package includes tax credits for energy-efficient homes, washers, refrigerators, heating and cooling systems, windows, and insulation, and a tax deduction for investment in efficient commercial buildings.

The Senate joined the House in failing to provide a Public Benefits Fund that would have attacked energy waste in the electricity sector and reduced the need for construction of hundreds new power plants in the next 20 years.