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Consumers Get Huge Victory With Senate’s Defeat Of Pork-Laden Energy Bill

November 21, 2003
Contact: Adam Goldberg, 202-462-6262

Congress Now Has Opportunity to Tackle Real Energy Reforms

(Washington, D.C.) – Consumers today applauded those Senators who stood up to big energy and against pork-barrel politics by defeating the energy bill, which would have opened the door to higher utility bills by repealing federal regulatory laws and subsidizing high-cost energy sources.
“Consumers dodged a huge bullet with the killing of this energy bill, because it provided a multi-billion dollar grab bag of giveaways to special interests while failing to truly reform the nation’s energy grid or reducing our reliance on big oil,” said Adam Goldberg, policy analyst for Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports.
“We thank those senators who had the courage to vote against this pork-laden bill,” he added. “But the close vote illustrates the power of the giveaways in these massive bills, which often are negotiated behind closed doors.”
Goldberg said now that the Senate has shown it is serious about real energy reforms, it can begin work next year on a comprehensive energy bill for the 21st Century. The measure should eliminate the costly ethanol mandate, with its liability waiver for both ethanol and MTBE; include strengthened automobile fuel and appliance efficiency standards; and eliminate billions of dollars of special interest giveaways for things like an Alaska natural gas pipeline with artificial price supports or next-generation nuclear power plants that rely on unproven technology.
The new bill should also not include a repeal of the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA). Repeal of PUHCA, which was in the bill defeated today, would allow multi-state holding companies to buy up local electric utilities and transfer the assets beyond effective oversight by state authorities. Congress also should do more to ensure the reliability of the nation’s electricity grid so that power outages that effected the northeast in August can be avoided.

Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, is an independent nonprofit testing, educational and information organization serving only the consumer. We are a comprehensive source of unbiased advice about products and services, personal finance, health, nutrition, and other consumer concerns. Since 1936, our mission has been to test products, inform the public, and protect consumers.