Plenty of hypocrisy to go around on energy bill

On September 16, the House of Representatives approved the Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act. The vote split 236 to 189, mostly along partisan lines. Iowa Representatives Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack and Leonard Boswell all voted with the Democratic majority in favor of the bill. Tom Latham and Steve King voted with most Republicans against the bill.

You can read the bill summary here.

In essence, this legislation was designed to give Democrats cover on the offshore oil drilling issue. The Democratic majority caved by allowing for more drilling between 50 and 100 miles of the shore. This will do nothing to reduce our reliance on foreign oil or lower the cost of gas, but it will give Democratic incumbents a response as Republican candidates hammer them on how we need to “drill here, drill now.”

To give Democrats cover for caving on offshore drilling, the bill also contains lots of good things, like renewed tax credits for wind and solar power, more investment in public transportation, better energy-efficiency standards, a federal renewable electricity standard (which would require 15 percent of electricity generated in the U.S. to come from renewable sources by 2020). In addition, it would end tax subsidies for large oil and gas companies and ban the export of Alaskan oil.

The Oil Drum blog noted,

It is not too surprising that the oil and gas industry is not in favor of the legislation. The legislation provides for a whole host of benefits, and a big piece of the cost would be paid for by new taxes on oil and gas companies. The off-shore drilling provision could best be described as window dressing.

Unfortunately, these benefits will not happen, because Republicans don’t need to pass a compromise energy bill in order to clear the way for more offshore drilling.

They can just wait for the current ban on offshore drilling to expire on September 30. In past years, Democrats in Congress have fought to extend the ban on offshore drilling, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi knew she did not have the votes to accomplish that this year. So, the bill will die in the Senate:

The bill faces a very uncertain future. The Senate is set to take up three separate energy bills, which differ sharply from the House measure. The White House issued a veto threat Tuesday, saying the House bill “purports to open access to American energy sources while in reality taking actions to stifle development.”

Senate Republicans may choose to block action on any energy bill and allow the moratorium to expire on Sept. 30. If the drilling ban lapses, the Bush administration could begin the process of preparing oil and gas lease sales in new areas as close as 3 miles offshore.

Pelosi and others talked about their big victory in getting this bill through the House, but that so-called victory won’t amount to much besides allowing Democratic incumbents to tell constituents they voted for offshore drilling.

The hypocrisy of Republicans on this issue is even worse.

Remember when a bunch of House Republicans demanded a special Congressional session this summer to deal with energy policy? Remember when Republican delegates to the GOP national convention chanted, “Drill, baby, drill!”

The Republican majority proved that they are not in favor of a comprehensive energy policy that would reduce oil consumption, promote renewable energy, and take tax breaks away from companies posting record profits this year.

Not only that, some Republicans tried to pass a motion to adjourn to block passage of this bill.

I totally agree with this statement from Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope:

Today, Republicans in the House were given a chance to pull America out of its energy crisis, and they refused. Majority leadership reached across the aisle to offer a package that includes both clean energy provisions and expanded offshore drilling. But supporters of Big Oil dug their heels in, refusing to support a truly comprehensive energy package because it did not do enough to help the oil industry and instead attempted a stunt to force a drill-only approach.

If House Republicans were honestly interested in clean energy, consumer protection, or a crackdown on ethics at federal agencies, they would have supported this package wholeheartedly. Instead, they fought it, proving beyond a doubt that their single, narrow aim is to increase profits for the oil industry.

For months, they have held up clean energy legislation, instead calling for a drill-only policy which will do nothing to lower gas prices, protect consumers, or solve our energy crisis. They have continued to demand that we open more of our nation’s coasts and public lands to drilling, which will lock us into a future of dependence on oil. They have maneuvered to undermine any bill that doesn’t put the oil industry first and hardworking Americans last.

With their latest failed trick, many Republicans in the House confirmed without a doubt that they will not be satisfied until the oil industry has an even tighter grip on our economy.

The full text of Pope’s statement is after the jump.

Though I find this whole episode depressing, it should motivate us to elect Barack Obama and more and better Democrats to Congress. Doing so won’t necessarily bring us a perfect energy policy, but we will certainly see some improvement on the charade we have now.

 “Drill-Only” Representatives Refuse to Address Energy Crisis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 16, 2008

Contact: Kristina Johnson: 415-977-5619

“Drill-Only” Representatives Refuse to Address Energy Crisis

House Republicans Prove They Only Answer to Big Oil

Statement of Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope on the passage of Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act and the rejection of the House Republicans attempt to force a drill-only alternative:

Today, House Republicans were given a chance to vote on a true “all-of-the-above” energy package that includes both clean energy and expanded offshore drilling. But despite significant offshore drilling provisions in the bill, an overwhelming number of House Republicans attempted to reject the bill and force a substitute to the House Leadership’s energy package, complaining that it did not go far enough to help oil companies-fortunately they failed.

Today, Republicans in the House were given a chance to pull America out of its energy crisis, and they refused. Majority leadership reached across the aisle to offer a package that includes both clean energy provisions and expanded offshore drilling. But supporters of Big Oil dug their heels in, refusing to support a truly comprehensive energy package because it did not do enough to help the oil industry and instead attempted a stunt to force a drill-only approach.

If House Republicans were honestly interested in clean energy, consumer protection, or a crackdown on ethics at federal agencies, they would have supported this package wholeheartedly. Instead, they fought it, proving beyond a doubt that their single, narrow aim is to increase profits for the oil industry.

For months, they have held up clean energy legislation, instead calling for a drill-only policy which will do nothing to lower gas prices, protect consumers, or solve our energy crisis. They have continued to demand that we open more of our nation’s coasts and public lands to drilling, which will lock us into a future of dependence on oil. They have maneuvered to undermine any bill that doesn’t put the oil industry first and hardworking Americans last.

With their latest failed trick, many Republicans in the House confirmed without a doubt that they will not be satisfied until the oil industry has an even tighter grip on our economy.

Unfortunately we can expect only more of the same in the Senate in the coming days and weeks. We oppose bills like the Gang of 10 proposal because they fail to provide a compromise solution that works for all Americans. We do not need a wishlist of polluting energy giveaways with only a token nod to clean energy. Proposals based on the same failed policies that primarily benefit outdated energy industries are the kinds of policies that led us into this crisis in the first place. We need to help the consumers suffering from high energy costs. Bills that focus on liquid coal, nuclear power and increased drilling while doing almost nothing for renewable energy and even less for efficiency aren’t balanced.

Congress should take this opportunity to help pull us out of our energy crisis by creating a true, comprehensive, ‘all of the above’ energy compromise. While far from ideal, the energy package offered by Democratic leadership in the House at least included significant investment in clean energy through a Renewable Energy Standard, improved public transit and green building measures, and an extension of clean energy tax credits. Congress should protect consumers through a crackdown on oil speculation and drilling royalty loopholes, and offers low-income energy assistance. Of course the House package also included compromise provisions for expanded offshore drilling but a package of clean energy measures would help solve our energy crisis and protect consumers–a stark contrast to a drill-only policy, which will do nothing but endanger our coasts and add to Big Oil’s profits.

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