Environmentalists Split on House Energy Bill

Posted September 16, 2008 at 6:33pm

Two prominent environmental groups gave competing takes on the Democratic energy package being debated on the House floor Tuesday.

“The House energy bill falls short of what Americans really need to meet our energy challenges,” said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a national organization with 1.2 million members.

“Big Oil is playing off the fears Americans faced with rising gas prices and is distorting the facts,” Beinecke said. “We want Congress to make sure that Big Oil doesn’t continue to load us up with dirty energy that overshadows the clean, renewable, homegrown solutions Americans need.”

Athan Manuel, a representative of the Sierra Club, praised the Democratic package for giving “a boost to the clean energy solutions that will pull us out of our energy crisis.”

Manuel said House Democrats made “a significant overture” by advancing a bill that includes clean energy provisions as well as a compromise on offshore drilling. The Sierra Club, which boasts 1.3 million members, also “welcomed a bill that calls for ethics training for employees at the Minerals Management Service, the agency that is overseeing oil and gas leasing and was the target of a blistering report this week on ethics violations.

“To be clear, the House energy compromise isn’t perfect,” Manuel said. “It does allow expanded drilling.”

But it also ends major subsidies to the oil companies, continued Manuel. “It’s time to break Big Oil’s choke hold on our energy policy. The energy package put forth in the House this week will go a long way toward doing that.”