Washington, DC - Rep. Edward Markey, a senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today noted the irony of President Bush visiting a Milwaukee company that's developing lithium-ion batteries for hybrid cars in his first stop to highlight alternative energy options.
“I wonder if any of the workers at this hybrid car battery business are aware that the same President who is using their factory as a photo-op supports huge subsidies for luxury SUVs that tilt the marketplace heavily against hybrid batteries,” noted Markey. “When it comes to energy policy, this President has as many personalities as Sybil. This country is addicted to oil because the Bush Administration is conflicted on oil – they know it is a problem, it entangles us in foreign conflicts, it hurts our economy, but they are afraid of addressing any of the solutions.”
Markey pointed out that despite repeated attempts by Democrats to eliminate the huge tax subsidy of gas guzzlers built into the current tax code, the Administration, with the help of the Republican Congress, have kept it alive. “This single tax subsidy dwarfs anything being done for hybrid batteries,” Rep. Markey said. “For example, the exemption given to big heavy luxury SUVs has been estimated to cost the treasury about $10 billion in one year alone. That’s the entire amount spent by the federal government on alternative energy since 2001 – which the President highlighted in his State of the Union Speech!”
Overall, although the President's 2007 budget proposal includes increases for research on solar, nuclear, hydrogen and wind power, it also includes cuts for research in other areas, such as improving the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks and weatherization programs. The proposed increase for the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Fuels, for example, is a miniscule 0.2% -- $2.6 million over the previous year's $1.2-billion total.
“The President’s energy rhetoric is out of step with his actual energy policy. The 2006 tax write off for a three-ton SUV's like the Hummer – which not only wastes gasoline but also pollutes the air at rate far faster than the average automobile -- is $25,000,” Markey pointed out. “The write-off for a low-emission, high-fuel economy Toyota Prius is only about $3000, and is phased out after the first 60,000 vehicles sold. There is no such restriction on the subsidies for gas guzzlers."
Markey continued, “The President needs to put his money where his mouth is, if he is serious about getting the United States on the track to compete with other nations as a leader in the energy industry.”
While Democrats are committed to an innovation agenda to pave the way for America the lead in the world on energy technology, Republicans have fought these reforms tooth and nail. Dallas Morning New columnist Scott Burns highlighted the hypocrisy of the Bush energy policy. “Uncle Sam will send you a tax refund that will pay for up to 6 years of gasoline if your business buys a Porsche Cayenne Turbo, MSRP $89,665. The same tax break is available if you purchase your qualifying gas-guzzler used. Basically, Uncle Sam is subsidizing guzzlers.”
For more information on Rep. Markey’s work to promote America’s energy independence -- check out http://markey.house.gov/
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CONTACT: Tara McGuiness