Case and Abercrombie
vote against energy bill

The massive energy bill approved by the U.S. House yesterday is "a disgrace epitomizing everything that's wrong with our national political process today," Rep. Ed Case said.

If approved by the Senate and signed by President Bush, the bill would provide billions of dollars in tax incentives for oil, gas and coal producers and give a boost to corn farmers by requiring a doubling of ethanol use in gasoline.

"It clearly allocates tens of billions of dollars to the benefit of the oil, gas, and nuclear energy industry, which is tens of billions of dollars going into the wrong pockets for the wrong reasons," said Case (D, rural Oahu, neighbor islands).

Case said representatives had little time to read the 1,400-page bill before it came up for a vote. He said he only received his copy of the measure at 3:30 a.m. It passed 246-180.

Asked about the bill's specific impact on Hawaii, Case said, "I simply don't know because I got the bill 13 hours ago."

Supporters of the bill called it farsighted and a key to improving America's energy security. Opponents said the tax breaks amounted to giveaways to oil, gas and coal industries. Also, they said, the legislation fails to focus on energy conservation and renewable fuels.

Hawaii Democrat Rep. Neil Abercrombie also voted against the bill.

The first overhaul of the nation's energy priorities in a decade, the legislation would provide $23 billion in energy-related tax incentives.

President Bush hailed the House vote. "I commend the House for its vote today and urge the Senate to act expeditiously as well," he said in a statement from London, where he is on a three-day state visit.


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