From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi: 'Now We See Why GOP Wanted to Hide Energy Bill -- It Puts the Special Interests before the Public Interest'

November 18, 2003

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke this afternoon on the floor of the House of Representatives in strong opposition to the Republican Energy Bill, which passed the House by a vote of 246 to 180. Below are her remarks:

"Earlier today, I came to the floor and told the story about the disgraceful Medicare bill that we will be reviewing later this week, in which House Democrats were shut out in favor of a back-room deal. Sadly, this energy bill is more of the same.

"While House Democrats were excluded from deliberations on this bill, they were not allowed to participate in this conference. The Vice President of the United States and the Halliburton crowd had a seat at the table.

"Republicans met behind closed doors to write this bill, shutting out House Democrats and the 130 million Americans we represent, while the special interests had special access. And it’s just not about the quantity, the number of Americans shut out. It also is about the diversity and the quality of the people left out.

"When House Democrats do not have a seat at the table, a seat is excluded to the members of our Congressional Black Caucus, our Congressional Hispanic Caucus, our Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus, our large Women’s Caucus, the list of the diversity that we have in our thinking goes on and on.

"The benefit of the thinking of a caucus that diverse should not be lost in any legislation that we put forth. Whether you like it or not, that diversity represents the future, my Republican colleagues. And you shut out the future from the table. That is why you have a bill that looks back. You have a bill that could have been written in the 1950s. It’s a missed opportunity.

"This energy bill is almost 1,200 pages long, but Democrats were not allowed to see the text until Saturday. And here we are, three days later, voting on the most comprehensive overhaul of energy policy since 1992.

"Now that we can see the bill, we know why Republicans wanted to hide it. It is loaded to the brim with special interest giveaways. It puts the special interests before the public interest.

"Yes, there are a few table scraps thrown toward clean energy resources and technologies, but for the most part, the bill will allow big energy companies to feast on a buffet of new tax breaks. It will cost Americans more than $142 billion dollars over the next 10 years.

"How bad is this bill? So bad that the Cato Institute, not known as a Democratic institution, so bad that the Cato Institute joined the Sierra Club in saying in a rare moment of agreement, this bill is ‘three parts corporate welfare and one part cynical politics.’

"Meanwhile, this bill does not provide the sound energy policy we need. The American people deserve an energy policy that is worthy of the 21st century, not one mired in the policies of the past. But this bill looks backward, not forward.

"This bill will not reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It will make it harder to increase fuel efficiency standards. It does not adequately invest in new technologies and promote energy efficiency. It will not protect average Americans from price-gouging and fraud. And it throws environmental concerns overboard.

"Just look at what this bill does to the environment:

  • It waives the Clean Water Act for construction at oil and gas facilities.

  • It waives the Clean Air Act in communities that are blanketed with smog, hurting millions of children.

  • It waives the Safe Drinking Water Act to allow the injection of diesel fuel into the water table.

· And it allows the gasoline additive MTBE to remain in use for years to come, even though it pollutes drinking water and is a suspected carcinogen. The bill even makes sure that the MTBE industry will not have to pay to clean up water it has contaminated. It has held them harmless for the damage that they do. That burden will fall on the people already suffering its effects.

"Mr. Speaker, it is no accident that we are voting on this energy bill in the final days before we adjourn. Republicans did really not want the American people nor the Members of Congress to see what was in this bill. When Americans learn what is in this bill, they will be offended and disappointed.

"This Congress had the opportunity to craft an energy policy that would boost the economy, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, clean up the environment, and protect public health. But instead we have before us an energy policy that looks to the past, not the future, and gives away huge, unnecessary tax breaks to the Republicans’ special interest friends. A vote no on this bill is a vote in the public interest. A vote yes is a vote for the special interest.

"I urge my colleagues to support the public interest and vote 'no.'"



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