Saturday, July 19, 2008

Republicans (especially Bush) Should Be Forced to Eat Crow

Is the energy situation a mess right now?  You bet your sweet *ss it is.  In 2005 Bush pushed an Energy Bill down the throats of the American public, about half of all Democrats in Congress signed on.  How has it changed the situation?

For starters, numerous Republican economists, like Alan Greenspan, and a number of former members of Bush's Council of Economic Advisors, recommended a gas tax years ago. 

The energy companies can respond to supply and demand, but the consumer is not very flexible.  Economists would say oil is "demand inelastic," since, for example, a commuter can't simply decide not to drive to work anymore as gas prices rise.  They might buy a more fuel efficient car, next time they buy one, but that'd be a few years off.

Public Citizen, Ralph Nader's group, provides this analysis of huge corporate giveaways to oil and gas companies provided by Bush administration Energy Bill.  In most every specific instance, the Bush and Cheney Energy Bill made America more dependent on foreign oil
  • Section 1329: Allows “geological and geophysical” costs associated with oil exploration to be written off faster than present law, costing taxpayers over $1.266 billion from 2007-2015.
  • Section 1323: Allows owners of oil refineries to expense 50% of the costs of equipment used to increase the refinery’s capacity by at least 5%, costing taxpayers $842 million from 2006-11
  • Sections 1325-6: This tax break allows natural gas companies to save $1.035 billion by depreciating their property at a much faster rate.
  • Section 342: Allows oil companies drilling on public land to pay taxpayers in oil rather than in cash.
  • Sections 344-345: Waives royalty payments for drilling for some natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Section 346: Waives royalty payments for drilling in offshore Alaska.
  • Sections 353-4: Waives royalty payments for gas hydrate extraction on the Outer Continental Shelf and public land in Alaska.
  • Section 383: The royalty-in-kind provisions in this section allow corporations drilling for oil on public land to forgo paying cash royalties to taxpayers.
  • Title IX, Subtitle J: This section would provide $1.5 billion in direct payments to oil and natural gas corporations to drill in deepwater wells.
  • Section 322: Exempts from the Safe Drinking Water Act a coalbed methane drilling technique called "hydraulic fracturing," a potential polluter of underground drinking water.
  • Section 323: Provides an exemption for oil and gas companies from the Federal Water Pollution Control Act for their construction activities surrounding oil and gas drilling.
  • Section 311: The section severely limits the ability of local communities and states to have adequate say over the siting of controversial Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) facilities.
  • Section 357: Authorizes a survey, paid for by the Federal Government, of the oil and natural gas available underwater off the coasts of states.
  • Section 390: Increases the ability to exclude a broad range of oil and gas exploration and drilling activities from public involvement and impact analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act.
  • Section 381: Limits the ability of states to protect their coastlines from oil and gas exploration by limiting their appeals process under the Coastal Zone Management Act.
  • Section 369: Mandates that the federal government make available oil shale and tar sands extraction on federal land for oil companies.

Is there going to be one reporter on Earth with the boldness required to ask the Bush administration about this?  I doubt it.

A little more review.  Johnathon Rauch seems prescient now for having called for an increase in the gas tax in 2003.  President Bush greatly dissembled in describing the Energy Bill in his press release.  And John McCain has a zero percent voting record on questions of energy and the environment, according to the League of Conservation Voters.

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