Friday, December 7, 2007

Oil First, The Nation Second

Earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed the most meaningful piece of energy legislation in decades. Based on a previous post, I am obliged to give credit to Speaker Nancy Pelosi for passing this bill. Well done!

Today, however, that effort was stalled in the U.S. Senate thanks to a filibuster and the promise of a veto from President Bush.

I have long prided myself on being a political Independent, but in evaluating the actions of the Republicans on this bill (and energy policy in general) I risk sounding like the most partisan of Democrats.

So be it. The Republicans are dead wrong on this issue. I welcome arguments to the contrary.

Anyway, on to the bill.

If it became law, this bill would do the following:

1. Increase automobile fuel efficiency 40% by 2020.
2. Require electricity companies to produce 15% of their power from renewable sources by 2020.
3. Repeal tax breaks to oil companies passed in the 2005 "energy bill" to fund research in alternative energy.

This bill would make a significant dent in our oil consumption, thereby lowering our gasoline costs and weakening our dependence on the Saudi Royal Family, Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and whatever governmental entity ultimately prevails in Iraq.

It would constitute our nation's first meaningful steps to lower greenhouse gas emissions .

In addition, it would fund an increased investment in alternative energy (an industry certain to be one of the most important of this century) by repealing tax breaks for oil companies enacted by a Republican Congress in 2005.

Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has hinted that the bill could pass the Senate if items #2 and #3 were eliminated.

Let's look at #2.

The only respectable argument that I have heard against this item is that it could raise energy prices for consumers. But there is no reason substantial and/or abrupt price increases should be necessary in the near term because the utility companies would have 12 years to achieve this standard.

Given the plummeting prices for solar and (especially) wind power, there is no reason significant price increases should be necessary in the long term either. And even if it DID raise electricity prices, they would be offset by savings from the dramatically increased efficiency of our automobiles.

As for #3, here is where I really get angry.

In 2000, when oil was less than $30 a barrel, Exxon Mobil made $8 BILLION in profit. Today, with oil at $90 a barrel, Exxon holds the record for the largest profit ever by an American company - $39.5 billion. Yet the President and the Republican leadership maintain that we should continue to give tax breaks to these cash machines.

The Congressional approval ratings are abysmally low, which makes them easier for the President to ignore. Yet in this case, the Democratic majority has crafted a policy that would be tremendously beneficial for our national security, the health of our environment and, over the longer term, our economic well-being.

Any politician that values these things more than the oil company financing of his/her next reelection campaign should be supporting this bill. Those that don't should do us all a favor and find another profession.

This President, who will never stand for reelection again, has no excuse. Unfortunately, at this point, he has no accountability either.

The article that sparked my thinking on this matter is here.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Couldn't agree more. Keep on writing, bud.