I don’t think I am being pointlessly hyperbolic when I state that there are few issues more important to the future of the country than our energy policy, and I am not sure this bill is going to get it done:
House and Senate negotiators came to agreement on broad energy legislation early today, hoping they have put together an overhaul of national energy policy that can clear Congress after years of stalemate.
“We hope to have the bill on the House floor on Wednesday and I think the Senate is going to put it up on Thursday,” said Representative Joe Barton, Republican of Texas and chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, as he concluded negotiations shortly before 3 a.m. Eastern time.
The measure touches on virtually every aspect of American energy production and consumption, including the electrical grid, hybrid cars, traditional oil and gas drilling, and incentives to develop new energy sources. But it does little to immediately lower the price of gasoline at the pump.
As they wound up their talks, lawmakers agreed to a significant new requirement to add corn-based ethanol to the gasoline supply, which will build support for the measure from farm state lawmakers.
Working furiously to try to strike an energy deal, the negotiators killed two major provisions aimed at curbing consumption of traditional fossil fuels like oil, natural gas and coal. They also agreed to slow the potential takeover of Unocal by a Chinese oil company to allow for a study of the national security and economic implications of the acquisition.
In a decision that could cost support for the bill from some coastal state lawmakers, negotiators beat back efforts by Florida and California House members to strip from the measure a provision that would allow an inventory of offshore oil and gas resources. Some lawmakers view the inventory as a precursor to a push to allow drilling off states that have opposed it.
So given how important this is, it is good to know the Republicans have their priorities:
As the nine-hour negotiating session was nearing an end, Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, failed in an effort to eliminate some of the relief from drilling royalties that the industry would receive through the bill, arguing that it was wrong to let oil companies escape fees for drilling on public land. “We might as well be giving tax breaks to Donald Trump and Warren Buffett here tonight,” said Mr. Markey. The Republican-led House majority on the conference committee quickly rejected his proposal.
In a disappointment for environmental advocates, House members on Monday rejected an effort to incorporate a plan passed by the Senate to require utilities to use more renewable energy like wind and solar power to generate electricity. They also defeated a bid to direct the president to find ways to cut the nation’s appetite for oil by one million barrels a day within 10 years.
If anyone has a more comprehensive analysis of the bill to date, pass it on.
Let’s see, a few years ago we were supposed to go to natural gas to clean the air. Now we are using too much natural gas.
It’s a shame that this energy bill is so lacking in vision at a time when thinking outside the box is so essential. This country is going to be in a world of hurt in a few decades.
I see several really large threats to the country looming on the horizon:
Fiscal disaster, brought on by irresponsible government.
Energy disaster, aided by irresponsible government.
Health disaster, aided by feckless government. (Think killer flu pandemic, lack of planning and preparation)
Terrorist disaster, aided by incompetant government (think reckless and foolish policy; think “last throes”)
Can we please get a new government?
It’s a shame that this energy bill is so lacking in vision at a time when thinking outside the box is so essential. This country is going to be in a world of hurt in a few decades.”
It saddens me to say this, but I agree with Sojourner. ;)
I read a great article awhile back, I BELIEVE it was in Wired Magazine, but unfortunately I can’t recall. Basically, the premise was that in order to solve our energy problems in the long run by creating viable long-term solutions, we will need a program along the same dollar figures, committment and scope as the Apollo Space Program. I would LOVE some Presidential Candidate (Republican, Moderate Democrat, doesn’t matter) to say: “My vision is complete energy independence for this country by 20__. And here’s the plan”. This goal can easily be couched in Liberal Terms (saving the environment) as well as Conservative Terms (Defeating Terrorism), but no one’s got the guts or the vision to do it. This, along with solving Illegal Immigration are two openings that a Moderate Democrat or Republican could exploit and I think win with, but I don’t see that happening. That’s unfortunate.
Would it be fair to say that Texas oil interests have the most influence here? Bush & Cheney both have deep connections to Texas oil. Rep. Barton, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee is a Republican from Texas. So, I’ll go out on a limb and assume he has similarly deep connections. No idea about Senator Domenici’s connections, if any.
I would suggest that what is good for Texas oil interests probably isn’t what is best for America’s long term energy needs. So, we probably don’t have the right people in the right places to produce a good energy bill.
Put Jane Fonda in charge of the energy bill, then everything will run on vegetable oil.
Put Jane Fonda in charge of the energy bill, then everything will run on vegetable oil.”
Fonda’s an idiot, but actually Bio Diesel (using used Vegetable Oil) has alot going for it. It’s about 50 cents more expensive than normal diesel. BUT it puts out 70% less pollutants and increases engine life by lubricating the insides of the engine. AND it finds a use for all that used Restaurant oil.
I would love to see more alternatives to oil, but I don’t think the government should be setting arbitrary timelines. The market will take care of it in the long run. SUVs are declining in popularity because of fuel prices, and Toyota Prius’ are in demand. Once alternative energy sources become more affordable, people will switch on their own.
The market only will work if it is completely open and fair. Oil does not sell on the market for it’s true cost. The cost of the Aircraft carriers we have sitting in the middle east is not factored in to that gallon of gas you are buying. Neither are the government subsidies given to the oil and coal companies. Biodiesel, Ethanol, Wind, Solar and Nuclear power could concievebly give us complete energy with in 20 years. Instead of subsidising the bad the energy, lets subsidize the good energy… or not subsidize any of it and let the market decide if you’d rather.
Subsidies are helpful in the energy context because there’s a lot of speculation involved when you switch to new energy sources. If you invest a lot of money into alternative energy, and it turns out there’s no demand for what you do, then you’ve just wasted a ton of money. So it’s smart policy for the government to provide, not a flat-out subsidy, but more of an insurance policy against the worst-case scenario. By reducing the downside risk, you steer companies in the direction you want to go.
Environmentalists buy the farm.
Cause we know how the government likes free markets.
Seriously. I see things like this–a rather pointless energy bill that’s a whole lot of noise and no progress (and perhaps some regression)–and it makes me really want to cast my lot with the devil I don’t know because the devil I do know really, really sucks.
There is no Energy Bill. This is a some quarter-measures for long-term investment in a few technologies lathered in pork and lard. I figure if both McCain and Feingold were against the thing, they must be on to something.
My compehensive analysis? This Bill is total bullshit.
America’s energy and environmental policies are going to send this nation spiralling down the economic crapper within two decades or less, I’m betting… unless the sun fries us all into pork rinds first. This bill is a very unfunny joke.