Statement of David M. Nemtzow, President, Alliance to Save Energy, on the Republican Energy Bill

Release Date: Monday, February 26, 2001

A Nod to Efficiency, a Deep Bow to Energy Production

"For a nation struggling to address the high cost of energy, the Republican energy bill offers little relief. Good energy policy must balance increasing supply with decreasing demand. Rather than maximizing the efficient use of energy - our nation's cheapest, cleanest and most accessible energy source - this imbalanced bill gives a gentle nod to efficiency, but makes a deep bow to expensive and exotic energy production.

"This bill ignores the three most successful policies for cutting energy waste: automobile fuel economy standards, electric utility-sector efficiency investments, and clean energy research and development.

"First, the bill ignores fuel economy (CAFE) standards which are already saving the nation over 3 million barrels of oil imports daily, but despite enormous technological progress the standards have not been updated since the mid-'80s. And the loophole for SUVs and light trucks remains big enough to drive a Chevy Suburban through it. We won't significantly reduce our oil dependency unless we make more fuel-efficient cars and trucks.

"Second, the bill leaves electricity consumers in the dark. It fails to do what N.Y. Governor Pataki and many others have done - adopt an across-the-board 'public benefit fund' that will provide investments in energy efficiency, renewable resources, and low-income assistance.

"Third, this legislation does nothing to expand our federal investment to R&D that has resulted in breakthroughs and commercial products that help consumers and businesses use less energy and save money by getting innovative technology into the marketplace.

"Fortunately, the bill does make a nod to energy efficiency: its proposed tax credits for efficient homes, appliances, cars, and other equipment, and its provisions for investing in the efficiency of schools, federal facilities and low-income homes are a welcome start. They are worthy of debate and eventual adoption, along with other energy efficiency provisions.

"Senator Murkowski is to be commended for bringing forward the debate on energy policy. But instead of providing an Everest of goodies for energy producers, Congress should provide the nation with a balanced energy policy that promotes the cheapest, cleanest and most reliable energy sources for families and businesses."