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Thread: Fossilized Fuel Legislation
04-20-2005 07:03 PM #1
Fossilized Fuel Legislation
just another example of the lack of insightful leadership of the country.
the "energy bill" is really just a consumption bill. conservation not required!
reprinted from the LA Times, 4-20-05
April 20, 2005
Fossilized Fuel Legislation
There's this much to like about the new energy bill in Congress: Hooters isn't in it. There's no longer a subsidy to build a Hooters in Shreveport, La., something that helped make last year's pork-laden bill a laughingstock.
In most ways, the bill, due back in the House this week, has changed less over four years than the Rocky Mountains. It deservedly died each congressional session and was resurrected in the next, remarkably well preserved. Its emphasis remains almost entirely on drilling and exploration for oil and gas (much of it in environmentally sensitive areas), and on $8 billion in tax breaks for companies.
The billion-dollar subsidy for an Idaho nuclear plant is still there. So is the provision to shield producers of the gasoline additive MTBE from environmental-damage lawsuits in California and other states. Drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge; incentives for expanded offshore oil and gas exploration; breaks for polluting coal-burning power plants; and diminished environmental regulation for drilling, paving and pipelines elsewhere? Still there, being pushed just as hard by President Bush.
The few policy changes are not improvements. Former versions would have done little to encourage alternative sources of energy or to conserve fuel. Now the bill does even less. Gone are tax credits for energy- efficient new homes and commercial buildings. The bill does not extend the tax deduction for hybrid vehicles.
Despite Bush's arguments for more drilling, the United States doesn't have nearly enough in reserves to drill its way to oil independence, even including wilderness lands.
By contrast, energy conservation would provide both immediate and long-term improvement, as it did in the 1970s. California has shown the way by requiring energy- efficient appliances and building materials, neither of which has a spot in the federal bill. Fuel economy for vehicles isn't under discussion, though U.S. fuel standards for passenger cars haven't been updated for 20 years.
The bill is likely to pass in the House and will head to the Senate. Last year, the House-Senate version carried an estimated cost of about $25 billion and would have made no measurable dent in oil dependency. The porky bill sank under its own weight.
With prices at the gas pump near $3 a gallon, the Senate this year should figure out that the time is ripe for a better-designed energy bill. The public is ready to hear not just about lower gas prices but also real conservation. That doesn't include the House's amendment to extend daylight saving time by two months, so it would last from early March to late November. Unless, of course, you consider more outdoor barbecues an encouragement of alternative fuel sources.