Statement of Lisa Pohlmann, Executive Director, Natural Resources Council of Maine
We are deeply disappointed that Senator Collins voted for a tax bill that would open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling. This vote reverses her 20-year record of opposing efforts to allow oil drilling in ANWR, and it is inconsistent with every public statement she has made about why ANWR should not be sacrificed in the pursuit of fossil fuels.
In 2005, Senator Collins made the excellent argument that investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy would do far more to reduce our reliance on foreign oil, save consumers money, and protect our environment than would drilling in ANWR. That’s why she voted against opening up ANWR as part of the Fiscal Year 2006 Budget, and her logic then is even more compelling today.
In 2005, U.S. dependence on foreign oil hit 60%. Today, it has dropped to 25%, the lowest level since 1970. As such, this is no time to be jeopardizing the majesty of one of the nation’s most precious landscapes in the hot pursuit of more oil, causing widespread pollution and harm to wildlife in the process.
We recognize that further negotiations will be necessary on the tax bill, which is why we urge Senator Collins to do everything possible to prevent a bill from going to the President’s desk that opens the Arctic to drilling.
This provision is deeply offensive. It was slipped into the tax bill as a give-away to the oil industry. It has been sold as a revenue-raising measure, yet it would offset only 7/100th of one percent of the increased deficit spending in the tax bill. A proposed change as important as this one, overturning decades of protection for one of the world’s last pristine landscapes, should be discussed and debated as a free-standing measure in the light of day, and not wrapped into a massive tax bill that’s been rammed through the process without public hearings or careful deliberation.
We also are troubled that Senator Collins has voted for a tax bill that could have devastating impacts on the development of renewable energy. The bill includes provisions that could cause radical harm to the renewable energy industry, which generates nearly $50 billion in annual U.S. investment and supports thousands of jobs, including in Maine.
Mainers who respect Senator Collins have every right to be disappointed with her vote for this tax bill, riddled with provisions that undermine the nation’s efforts to provide balanced stewardship of our environment and ease the transition away from fossil fuels and toward increased use of clean renewable energy.