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CHRISTIAN, JEWISH GROUPS ASK HOUSE TO CHANGE OR REJECT BUSH ENERGY PLAN

July 30, 2001, WASHINGTON, D.C. – Change the Bush energy plan or reject it, the National Council of Churches (NCC) and Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) urge in a letter delivered to every U.S. Representative today.

The plan – set to come before the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday – “is not a balanced plan,” write the Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar, NCC General Secretary, and Sharon Bloome, COEJL Chair.  “It does not reflect our obligations to protect the environment and human health, nor is it economically prudent.”

Edgar and Bloome ask House members to reject the proposed energy legislation unless it:

-           Significantly increases government standards for automobile fuel efficiency from the current average 27.5 miles per gallon.  A 10 miles per gallon increase would be significant, Edgar and Bloome say.

-           Treats sports utility vehicles (SUVs) as cars.  Currently, SUVs are held to a lower fuel efficiency standard than are automobiles.

-           Rejects drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  “Drilling in the ANWR only delays the day when we must reduce our use of oil, and it would unnecessarily harm a unique ecosystem and already threatened species,” Edgar and Bloome write.

-           Significantly increases incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency and removes subsidies for oil, coal and nuclear energy.  The bill provides $33.5 billion over 10 years in tax breaks – at least 75 percent of that for fossil fuels and nuclear energy.  “Oil and coal companies do not need assistance from U.S. taxpayers – oil companies have reported record profits in recent quarters … “ Edgar and Bloome write.

The full text of the letter to U.S. House of Representatives members follows:

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES
COALITION ON THE ENVIRONMENT AND JEWISH LIFE

July 30, 2001

Dear Representative:

We are writing to express our concerns about the omnibus energy legislation coming before the House as it is not a balanced plan. It does not reflect our obligations to protect the environment and human health, nor is it economically prudent.

We urge you, on behalf of the National Council of Churches (36 Protestant, Orthodox, and historic Black Church communions) and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (29 national Jewish organizations), to support the following improvements in the bill:

         Replace the tiny increase of CAFE standards now in the bill with a significant increase and close the SUV loophole. These are the most effective steps we can take to help consumers with energy costs, reduce our reliance on imported oil, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We understand from press reports that the National Academy of Sciences report on CAFE requested by the Congress last year shows that a significant increase – 10 miles per gallon - in CAFE standards is both possible and desirable. We believe an increase in CAFE standards will also have a positive effect on the economy, stimulating innovation and increasing competitiveness. It is simply not right to fail to do what we know we can to help people and protect creation.

         Remove the provision to drill in the ANWR. We cannot meaningfully reduce our dependence on imported oil by drilling – we simply do not have the reserves. Nor can we depend upon expanded supply of oil to meet our energy needs in the future. Reducing our use of oil is the only way to accomplish these objectives – and we have the technology to do so. Drilling in ANWR only delays the day when we must reduce our use of oil, and it would unnecessarily harm a unique ecosystem and already threatened species.

         Significantly increase incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and remove subsidies for oil, coal, and nuclear energy. The bill provides $33.5 billion over 10 years in tax breaks. At least 75 percent, or $25.2 billion, are for fossil fuels and nuclear energy. We have an obligation to our children and to our Creator to invest in a clean energy future. Investments in energy efficiency and renewables over the past 10 years have yielded strong results according to a recent Department of Energy study. Oil and coal companies do not need assistance from US taxpayers – oil companies have reported record profits in recent quarters, and power plant construction is at an all time high as a result of market demands.

If these improvements in the legislation are not made, I urge you not to support it.

Now is the time to set a new and positive direction for American energy policy, one that will lead our nation in a transition from an energy system that harms human health, causes global warming, degrades land and marine ecosystems, and pollutes the earth to an energy system that provides clean, renewable, and reliable energy that does not threaten human health or the environment. That future is within our grasp. Not to reach for it would be a gross abdication of our moral responsibility.

Thank you for your consideration of our views.

Sincerely,

The Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar,
General Secretary, National Council of Churches
475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY  10115

Sharon Bloome
Chair, Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life
443 Park Avenue South, 11th floor, New York, NY 10016

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