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Rep. Andrews Hosts "Q" and "A" Visit with Biology Students at Camden County College

Location: Washington, DC


On Friday, April 22, 2005, the Biology students of Camden County College welcomed me to their class for a question and answer session about environmental issues impacting our nation today. Specifically, the students and I discussed the recent Energy Bill Vote before the House of Representatives. At a time when gas prices are skyrocketing, over $2 per gallon, America, now more than ever, needs a coherent energy policy that will encourage conservation, improve our energy market while preserving our environment.

I believe that a coherent energy policy can be created by investing in alternative energy, by promoting programs which are cost effective for consumers such as the hybrid vehicle, and through renewable energy which takes energy from inexhaustible sources such as wind, water flow or solar energy.

Most importantly, America should raise the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to diminish our dependence on foreign oil, reduce pollution by emissions and to ultimately save consumers money at the gas pump. Improved standards will result in the reduction of oil consumption, thus benefiting our nation's economy. Only when we make these improvements to CAFE standards, can energy independence be achieved.

I advised the students that I voted against the Energy Bill before the House of Representatives for several reasons. Primarily, I believe the Energy Bill would do little to moderate high consumer prices and instead would permit energy companies to profit further from tax break incentives.

First, the bill opens up the Artic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil drilling. I believe that our nation's wildlife and environment should not be harmed to obtain our energy resources. As such, the deserved protection for this national site should remain in place.

Second, this bill provides a safe harbor position which shields the producers of a dangerous gasoline additive called MTBE from environmental lawsuits. The additive, which has been found to leak from underground storage tanks and contaminate groundwater throughout our nation's communities, triggered these lawsuits. As a result of this bill, a majority of MTBE lawsuits will be thrown out by Congress. Essentially, this bill includes a waiver to protect chemical producers and remove them from all MTBE liability lawsuits filed since September 2003. Finally, the bill alters the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act by allowing exemptions for oil and gas exploration and production.

During my interaction with the students, I was very impressed by the quality of the students' questions and their compassion for the well-being of our nation's environment. As this energy bill progresses to the Senate, I will urge my colleagues to support an energy bill that embraces energy conservation but not through the expense of harmful action to our nation's wildlife and environment.

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