The Energy Bill (Energy Policy Act of 2005 / HR6)

The Bush/Cheney Energy Plan in Action

June 2002 (updated November 2, 2005)

[News] [Analysis] [Problems] [Targets]

Download the Energy Bill:

Energy Policy Act of 2005 (3MB PDF; 551 pgs) [Bill History]

Smaller versions from the Government Printing Office (GPO): 1.3 MB PDF / 1.9 MB text version

Other copies of the 1724 page final energy bill (same as above, but double-spaced), as reported out of Conference Committee:

Initial versions of the legislation (before the different versions were merged in conference committee):

Background information from House and Senate Energy Committees:

The tax section of the Energy Bill was passed in 2004 as part of a corporate tax break bill called the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (HR 4520). It was signed into law by President Bush on 10/22/2004. See bill history for more details.]

Update: the Energy Bill passed and was signed into law by President Bush on Aug 8th, 2005.

A sound energy policy would focus on conservation, efficiency and CLEAN renewables (like wind and solar -- no "biomass" incinerators) and that we need a clean fuels policy that dramatically reduces our oil consumption and moves us toward electric vehicles, rather than chasing false solutions like hydrogen and ethanol.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 does just the opposite. It's without question the most environmentally-damaging national legislation ever to be passed in the U.S. It's a gigantic subsidy bill, providing support to almost every conceivable dirty energy technology, including nuclear power, fossil fuels, and polluting "alternative" fuels. The Energy Bill passed the House of Representatives on April 21, 2005 [See how they voted] and the Senate on June 28, 2005 [See how they voted].

The different versions were merged into a final version by the House-Senate conference committee and completed late Monday night, July 25th, 2005. The final bill had only been available on the government's legislative website for under 48 hours before the bill cruised through the House on Thursday, July 28th, 2005 [See how they voted], and came to a vote in the Senate on the afternoon of Friday, July 29, 2005 [See how they voted]. Like most large bills of this sort, it's unlikely that any legislators had even read the legislation before voting on it. A week later (Aug 8th, 2005), it was signed into law by President Bush.

Unlike in 2003, the Democrats in the Senate didn't even try to stop the bill with a filibuster. Individual Senators have the power to filibuster a bill by talking forever until the Senate leadership gives up and moves on to another issue. It takes 60 votes to break a filibuster. In 2003, a filibuster stopped the energy bill. At the time, the bill was 2 votes away from the 60 votes needed to break the filibuster. 10 Democrats voted the wrong way. We only won at that time because 6 Republicans voted the right way.

In 2003, the filibuster was focused around the MTBE liability waiver. In 2005, that waiver was removed (though a provision to move MTBE lawsuits to federal courts remained), avoiding the issue that prevented the bill's passage in 2003. Another super-controversial issue (drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) was also left out of the bill, to avoid an inevitable filibuster. By focusing so intently on the ANWR issue, the environmental movement put too many eggs in one basket and lost everything else in the process.

The energy bill will...

  • increase gasoline prices (according to Bush's own Department of Energy)
  • do nothing to reduce our reliance on oil imports
  • do nothing to increase auto fuel efficiency
  • do nothing to transition our electricity sector towards clean renewable

  • inventory the U.S. coastlines for oil and gas, to make way for future
    drilling in our coastal waters

  • trample state's rights to protect their coasts from liquefied natural gas
    terminals (used so we can go to war for gas as well as oil, now that we're
    running out of natural gas in North America)

  • require ethanol use, increasing gas prices [mention this if you're in a
    Western or New England state, where ethanol would need to be imported from
    the mid-west]

  • make us more vulnerable to terrorism by building more juicy terrorist
    targets (new nuclear reactors and a new gas pipeline from Alaska)

  • throw many billions of tax dollars into the expensive and polluting
    nuclear power industry

  • promote nuclear proliferation by reversing long-standing U.S. policy
    against reprocessing waste from commercial nuclear reactors, and using
    plutonium to generate commercial energy

  • promote building more coal power plants
  • provide incentives to cut down our national forests for energy production

For an overview of the history of the Energy Bill up until late January 2004, read THE ENERGY BILL: The Environment’s Worst Nightmare.

News Articles:

Analyses of the Energy Bill:

Problems in the Energy Bill

The 2004-2005 Senate Energy Bill will not include Arctic Refuge drilling or the MTBE liability waiver (the two items responsible for past Energy Bill filibusters). Instead, these two issues will be pursued in separate initiatives. However, there are many other provisions that make this bill worse than previous bills.

NOTE: Some of the language below was written for the 2002 and 2003 bills, and may not precisely describe the 2005 bill

More Enrons:

The bill further deregulates the already troubled electricity industry by repealing the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA), the main law to protect consumers from market manipulation, fraud, and abuse in the electricity sector. If PUHCA had been enforced and not recently weakened, the Enron collapse would never have occurred. PUHCA places ownership restrictions on giant electricity companies and restricts the ability of companies to make investments that divert resources away from their primary responsibility: serving electricity customers. Also, Section 1221 gives the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the power to condemn land for building power transmission lines and distribution facilities (except in most of Texas).

Nuclear Power & Waste

New Nuclear Reactors Mandated and Funded: The Senate and House bills promise over $6.1 billion in subsidies and tax breaks, as well as other incentives, to the mature nuclear industry to build new nuclear reactors. The final bill includes $2 billion risk insurance program for up to six new reactors that was not included in either the House or Senate passed energy bills. $1.3 billion is going to an experimental nuclear plant in Idaho to generate hydrogen fuel, which effectively makes the hydrogen "dirty." $2 billion will go toward nuclear energy research and development, including the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Power 2010 program to construct new nuclear plants, and its Generation IV program to develop new reactor designs. It essentially nationalizes nuclear power by giving taxpayer money and federal land to the nuclear industry to research and "deploy" new nuclear reactors. It grants a blank check to fund the nuclear industry's dream... their vision of 50,000 megawatts of new nuclear generation by 2020, covering up to 50% of the cost of establishing new reactors during most of the initials stages of development (all but construction) while streamlining the approval process by greatly reducing public involvement.

The bill refers to the Department of Energy's Nuclear Power 2010 Program, which in turn, refers to Nuclear Energy Institute's

Vision 2020:

"The nuclear industry responded to the National Energy Policy with "Vision 2020", which sets the goal of 50,000 megawatts of new nuclear generating capacity added to the U.S. grid by 2020. The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) took a lead role in formulating Vision 2020 and has established an Executive Task Force on New Nuclear Power Plants to help guide near term industry activities toward that goal...

"The [Department of Energy] has coordinated its efforts with those of NEI and its Executive Task Force on New Nuclear Power Plants, to ensure compatibility with ongoing industry activities. The recommendations in this Roadmap are complementary to NEI efforts and are essential to achieving Vision 2020."

[From pages 1-2 of A Roadmap to Deploy New Nuclear Power Plants in the United States by 2010, Volume I, Summary Report]

(More info on: nuclear power & waste)
Price-Anderson Reauthorization: Enables new nuclear reactors to be built by extending nuclear insurance liability caps for the next 20 years (the existing, aging reactors are grandfathered in and would still be covered if the Price-Anderson law is not renewed). DOE contractors get an extension indefinitely. While U.S. accident liability is capped at $10 billion, accidents outside of the U.S. are capped at only half a billion. Since cost estimates of a catastrophic nuclear accident range as high as $600 billion, the public could end up covering a large part of such costs. The current law amounts to a 3.4 billion dollar per year insurance subsidy for the nuclear industry, skewing the electricity market in favor of nuclear energy. In the renewal language, new modular reactors are allowed to pay less insurance premium than old reactors.

Nuclear Proliferation: So-called "recycling" of high-level nuclear radioactive waste is an extremely dirty process otherwise known as reprocessing, which creates huge amounts of nuclear waste, including plutonium which is a nuclear weapons proliferation risk. The bills would fund fuel recycling research, reversing a long-standing U.S. policy against reprocessing of irradiated nuclear fuel. The ban on reprocessing technology must remain. Nuclear waste must be regarded as a hazard, NOT a commodity. Reprocessing facilitates the stealing of nuclear bomb material and has proven to be a health hazard at the facilities which attempt it. Reprocessing plants in France, England and Japan have proven to be extremely dangerous and polluting. France and Japan have already shut down their plants.

(More info on: reprocessing)
Uranium Sales: The Senate bill language authorizes sale of many types of uranium waste products, including "depleted" uranium, which has been used to make "armor-piercing" ammunition which has caused permanent contamination in Iraq, Kosovo and possibly Afghanistan as well as contributing to Gulf War Syndrome in U.S. vets. Uranium stays radioactive for billions of years and, when DU munitions are fired, they pulverize upon impact, spreading fine radioactive dust into the air, land and water. The bill also authorizes sale of other extremely hazardous forms of uranium, such as uranium hexafluoride.

The House bill language includes $10 million for each of the next three years for the uranium mining/processing industry.

Nuclear Fusion: Funding for an experimental fusion reactor is also provided in the energy bill. Fusion has been a pie-in-the-sky promise for many years and has done little more than eat research money. What IS known for sure is that fusion reactors would be extremely expensive (just like the fission reactors are), would still rely on centralized large power generation, and still generate nuclear waste. The fusion experiment that used to exist in New Jersey was dismantled and shipped across the U.S. to be dumped in a nuclear waste dump in Washington state. Fusion reactors use tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen which is very hard to contain (it's a gas) and is a major health problem, causing cancers and leukemia. Fusion reactors also often need the more wasteful fission technology to get the reaction started. Since much cleaner and cheaper technologies exist, there is no need to be exploring the false hope of fusion anymore.

Fossil Fuels (Coal / Oil / Gas)

Higher Gas Prices and Increased Oil Imports: In February 2004, Bush's Energy Information Administration (part of the U.S. Department of Energy) released a report titled "Summary Impacts of Modeled Provisions of the 2003 Conference Energy Bill." It was looking at the 2003 energy bill and came to the following conclusions about oil:

  • that gas prices would go up MORE if the energy bill passed, than if it weren't passed;
  • that petroleum consumption is going to keep increasing and that the energy bill would only slow this increase by a tiny, insignificant amount;
  • that oil imports are going to keep increasing and that the energy bill would only slow this increase by a tiny, insignificant amount.
(More info on: EIA Report)
Increased Oil Dependence: Increases America's oil dependence by 130,000 barrels of oil per day in 2014 through extending the 'dual-fuel' loophole.

"Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Preemption: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would have the power to overrule state and local regulation of liquid natural gas facilities. Since natural gas production has already peaked in North America, these terminals are necessary to maintain the U.S. addiction to gas by entering global conflicts over the world's remaining gas resources. The preemption is clearly a ploy meant to deal with communities who have stood up against the major risks and environmental problems associated with LNG. The law would put an end to a legal battle between the federal government and the state of California over whether the current law gives FERC the power to preempt local concerns over a proposed Long Beach LNG facility. Massachusetts state and local officials are launching a legal challenge against an import facility in Fall River, Mass. Other states have used zoning and other provisions to reject LNG sites. In Maine, three LNG facilities have been rejected in local votes. With natural gas production set to peak globally around 2020, it doesn't make sense to be investing in new LNG terminals. And because LNG is highly volatile, the terminals become an obvious terrorist target.

"Clean Coal" Research and Subsidies: There is no such thing as "clean" coal, since it necessarily involves the devastating impacts of mining (in West Virginia, entire mountains are being dismantled and then dumped into stream beds known as "valley fills"). The polluting elements in coal (mercury, sulfur, chlorine, fluorine, natural radioactivity and more) don't disappear for the sake of "clean" coal. The technology might displace them into the ash or other waste streams, but they don't conveniently go away. They should be left in the ground, as we move into the 21st century and leave unnecessary old technologies like coal in the history books where they belong. Enough money has been wasted on "clean" coal research already.

The bill authorize almost $6 Billion in funding over the next 9 years for "clean coal" projects, and provides federal loan guarantees to build at least 16 new coal-fired power plants.

Toxic Wastes to be "recycled" into Concrete for Government Buildings: Industrial wastes, including the highly toxic fly ash captured in the pollution control equipment of coal-fired power plants could be "recycled" by mixing it into concrete and cement. This would pose a hazard to construction and demolition contractors and local communities. Government agencies would be required to give priority to purchasing this sort of concrete/cement. The government shouldn't be helping the coal industry sweep their toxic waste literally "under the rug" into the foundations of our buildings.
Clean Water Act Exemption: The oil and gas industries would be granted an exemption for their construction activities from compliance with Clean Water Act provisions that require all types of construction activities to reduce polluted runoff from these sites.
NEPA Exclusions: The bill seeks to significantly increase the ability to categorically exclude a broad range of oil and gas exploration and drilling activities from public involvement and impact analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Coastal Exploration: Tramples on states' abilities to protect their coasts from harmful oil and gas exploration by weakening their voice about federal projects that affect their coasts.
Subsidies for Oil/Gas Drilling: Billions of dollars of subsidies and research money would be provided for drilling in our coastal waters (including $1.5 billion for "ultra-deepwater" drilling and exploration) and "unconventional" drilling on land. The Senate bill also provides for research and tax breaks for coalbed methane drilling. Such drilling is destroying farms and the rural ecology of states like Wyoming and Montana and even eastern states like Pennsylvania. Tax credits are even granted for oil and gas drilling in marginal wells, subsidizing otherwise unprofitable drilling operations. Under the 2002 House bill (Sec 6223), "unwarranted" denials and stays on drilling on federal lands would be eliminated.

Seismic Exploration: The bill includes dangerous provisions to allow harmful seismic underwater oil and gas exploration that could pave the way for offshore drilling along America's coastlines.
Underground Chemical Injection: The bill threatens drinking water by amending the Safe Drinking Water Act to allow the unregulated underground injection of chemicals during oil and gas development and during geothermal energy development.
Oil Shale/Tar Sands: The bill mandates the rapid development of a commercial oil shale/tar sands leasing program. Directs the Department of Interior to identify and prioritize for land exchange federal lands for transfer to corporations for oil shale development.
Oil Refinery Revitalization: The House and Senate bills contain provisions for re-opening idle oil refineries and putting new refineries on-line. Republicans have repeatedly complained that environmental regulations are too stringent to allow new oil refineries. In fact, evironmental regulations are not the reason that there have been no new refineries since 1974. From 1975 to 2000, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received only one permit request for a new refinery. On the other hand, oil companies are regularly applying for – and receiving – permits to modify and expand their existing refineries.

Looking for a reason for high gas prices?

Industry consolidation is limiting competition in oil refining sector. The largest five oil refiners in the United States (ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, BP, Valero and Royal Dutch Shell) now control over half (52.2%) of domestic refinery capacity. Only ten years ago, these top five oil companies only controlled about one-third (34.5%) of domestic refinery capacity. This dramatic increase in the control of just the top five companies makes it easier for oil companies to manipulate gasoline supplies by intentionally withholding supplies in order to drive up prices. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concluded in March 2001 that oil companies had intentionally withheld supplies of gasoline from the market as a tactic to drive up prices—all as a “profit-maximizing strategy.”

Nukes in Oil?: The bill provides $250,000 to develop technologies to use radioactivity to refine oil.

New Alaskan Pipeline: 10 billion dollars would be spent to build a new pipeline for natural gas from Alaska, increasing U.S. reliance on fossil fuels and creating yet another appealing, centralized terrorist target.
Alaska Oil Subsidy: Allows oil industry to forgo royalty payments to the federal Treasury for oil drilled areas off Alaska's coastline.
National Petroleum Reserve: The bill threatens wildlife and subsistence values of the 23 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska by literally giving away oil leases on Alaska's North Slope, while at the same time handing oil companies a free pass to sit on the leases for decades without contributing anything to America's energy needs.
Support for Dirty "Alternative" Fuels, Part 1 -- Coal-to-Oil Refineries:
Tax credits and research & development money would be provided for "alternative" fuels such as the liquefied-coal diesel fuel which would be produced by the "coal-to-oil" refinery planned for Schuylkill County in eastern Pennsylvania (the nation's only anthracite mining region). The mining barons behind the project plan to market it as Ultra Clean Fuel."

Waste / Incineration / Biomass / Biofuels
Support for Dirty "Alternative" Fuels, Part 2 -- Trash/Sludge-to-Ethanol: Subsidized loans would be provided for the contruction of "trash-to-ethanol" projects like those proposed in Alabama, Indiana, Lousiana, New Hampshire, New York, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Waste to ethanol includes: animal wastes, including poultry fats and poultry litter, municipal solid waste, and other waste materials.

(More info on: ethanol)

Support for Dirty "Alternative" Fuels, Part 3 -- Ethanol Production Incentives: The bill has a "Renewable Fuel Standards" (RFS) that starts at 4 billion gallons in 2006 and increases to 7.5 billion gallons in 2012. The fact is that ethanol, a potential ingredient in gasoline, dirties the air more than it cleans it. Its production requires vast plantings of corn, which wipe out fish and wildlife by destroying habitat and polluting air, soil, and water. Of all crops grown in the United States, corn demands the most massive fixes of herbicides, insecticides, and chemical fertilizers, while creating the most soil erosion.

(More info on: ethanol)

Forests to Ethanol: Provides incentives to cut down trees, including those in sensitive areas such as roadless areas, to use in ethanol and motor fuels production.
Tax Credits for Poultry Waste Incinerators: A British company (Fibrowatt) is seeking to build turkey and chicken factory waste incinerators in about ten states. The energy bill contains a "three-year extension of credit for producing electricity from wind and poultry waste." Extending the wind energy tax credit is a wonderful idea, but applying this to burning poultry factory wastes is crazy. Among other things, chickens and turkeys are fed arsenic as a growth-promoter. These "arsenical" drugs are used widely throughout the industry and much of the arsenic ends up in the animal's waste. The U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. EPA are starting to get concerned about how much arsenic is being dumped on farm fields as this animal waste is applied as fertilizer. Burning that waste would only serve to move these contaminants into the air. This isn't the sort of "green" energy that should be getting tax breaks.

Tax Credits for Other Incinerators: Through the elusive term "biomass," tax credits are extended to other forms of incinerators as well, including those that burn construction/demolition wood wastes, which are quite contaminated with metals like lead, mercury, chromium and arsenic as well as chlorine chemicals which produce dioxin when burned. Thankfully, trash incinerators aren't included in this tax credits section of the bill, but many other polluting incinerators will be propped up by this clause.

(More info on: incineration, biomass)
Tax Credits for Toxic Sludge Products: Sewage sludge comes contaminated with all sorts of household and industrial toxic chemicals. The energy bill provides for this toxic sludge to be reprocessed into "renewable automotive fuels."

(More info on: sewage sludge)
Bioenergy & Biotech - Genetically-Engineered Trees and Beyond: Using terms like bioenergy, biofuels, biopower, and biorefineries, the energy bill would fund genetic engineering research programs, including programs like the Plant Genome Program. [Sec. 971] The 2003 bill specifically advocates the use of genetically engineered trees to suck up toxic and radioactive contaminants from the ground, [Sec. 977] and would likely end up with those plants being burned for "green" energy, thus releasing those contaminants into the air. This "GE tree" research is highly controversial and is a very risky area of biotech development. Some of the GE tree research is being done with the goal of creating quick-growing, "Roundup-Ready" (pesticide-resistant) poplar trees that could be harvested in order to be burned for "green energy" as a "biomass" fuel.

Tax Credits for Burning of Toxic Landfill Gases: Tax credits designed mainly to help promote wind development will be extended to continue their use in also promoting the burning of toxic landfill gases as a "renewable" energy resource. Unfortunately, there are not even any requirements that the hundreds of toxic contaminants in landfill gas be filtered out before the gas is burned (landfill gas is not simply "methane"). EPA's own documents show that burning landfill gas is dirtier than natural gas and even - by some measures - dirtier than burning coal. Landfill gas is the primary energy source that has undercut wind power development in recent years, since it's widely allowed to be marketed as a "renewable" resource, leading companies to use it as a cheap way to obtain "renewable" energy to sell to gullible consumers. The House bill also promotes the use of landfill gas in the production of "renewable auto fuel."

(More info on: landfill gas)
Transmission / Misc.
Transmission Line Preemption: Overrides states' rights by providing federal siting authority for transmission lines.

Rather than building new power lines (especially so close to where people spend time), we should be moving away from centralized power production and long-distance transmission. Enhancing the existing transmission system (which other parts of the bill would do), decreasing electric use through conservation and efficiency and increasing our reliance on decentralized power generation (like wind and solar, which the bill doesn't support as much as it ought to) would ensure that additional major power transmission systems aren't needed.

More Gas Pipelines (and Underground Storage?): The House bill calls for development of interagency effort to expedite the environmental review and permitting of natural gas pipeline projects. Details of the expedited process are laid out in the the May 2002 report: "Interagency Agreement On Early Coordination Of Required Environmental And Historic Preservation Reviews Conducted In Conjunction With The Issuance Of Authorizations To Construct And Operate Interstate Natural Gas Pipelines Certificated By The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission."

(More info on: natural gas)
Nanotech Research Without Strings: Over $23 billion is being made available for various types of nanotechnology research. Nanotech (the manipulation of matter at the atomic level) has implications that are both promising and dreadful, depending on how it's applied. Funding should not allow for tech transfer of nanotech research without serious public oversight into how the technologies are deployed. While there are exciting and Star Trek-like technological potentials from nanotech, modern history has shown that corporations can't be trusted to develop technologies with the public interest as a higher priority than profits.

MTBE Claims moved to Federal Court: Provides "backdoor immunity" to the producers and distributors, of the likely carcinogenic gasoline additive MTBE by removing MTBE claims from state court to federal court when the claims are based on state tort law, nuisance law, or consumer law. This unfairly deprives injured parties and their representatives (water utilities, states AGs, etc) of their right to have their claims heard in their state forum and could derail many legal claims entirely, effectively shielding those companies responsible for MTBE contamination from their full financial liability for the damages they have caused.

Many existing laws would be altered by an energy bill.
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Last modified: 28 November 2005