October 4, 2005

TO:
  Members of the U.S. Senate
FROM:
  Kay J. Maxwell, President
RE:
  House Energy Bill, H.R. 3893

The League of Women Voters urges you to block the proposed energy bill from becoming law. Under the guise of post-hurricane energy relief, this legislation would do little to solve our country’s energy problems. Instead, the legislation undermines existing environmental protections, makes smog worse and fails to provide for much needed energy conservation measures.

This energy bill is wrongfully using the devastation of our recent hurricanes as a pretext for undermining important environmental protections. The proposal’s many provisions harmful to public health and the environment make it unsupportable. Chief among these are provisions that gut key Clean Air Act protections. According to a 2002 Environmental Protection Agency report, more than 130 million Americans live in areas that violate clean air safeguards. This energy bill would delay relief to those living with dirty air and will compromise the health of the elderly, people with lung disorders and children.

Now is not the time to roll back clean air protections, reduce ozone attainment requirements around the country, or preempt state authorities. A good energy policy would not repeal important pollution controls like the New Source Review program.

Likewise, we are deeply concerned about proposals to exploit some of America’s most precious places for limited access to gas and oil which cannot help us out of our current energy crisis. The long-standing moratorium on new drilling in America’s Outer Continental Shelf should not be lifted. In addition, no attempts should be made to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Having lost so much in our Gulf States, we should be more vigilant than ever in preserving our national treasures for future generations.

Finally, the proposed legislation fails to provide for real energy conservation – the key element for any good energy policy. Significant energy conservation is vital if we are to make the necessary steps to reduce our nation’s oil dependence. The legislation does not improve fuel economy standards for motor vehicles and does not direct the executive branch to develop and implement necessary plans to reduce oil consumption through energy conservation.

We urge you to oppose this ill-conceived and dangerous legislation in whole or part. Our national treasures and the health of millions of Americans, including children and the elderly, are at stake.