Whenever I discuss politics, I tend to overuse terms like “shameful” and “ludicrous”, and to spit while I talk. I don’t know of any way to spit through this blog, so consider yourself lucky while I discuss the shameful and ludicrous decisions those folks in Washington are making on the new energy bill.

This bill has become a catch-all for energy legislation: seems like Mr. Bush decided that “coal” was the future about 6 years ago and Congress hasn’t made much energy progress since then. It doesn’t have a cool name or moniker, it’s just the “Energy Bill”. So we’ve got renewable energy, biofuels, tax increases or tax cut reductions (they call it different things in different articles) for oil companies, and fuel efficiency standards for auto companies all being debated together. There must be some good reason why they lumped it all in, because surely it’d be faster to get meaningful deals on all of these issues if they were debated separately, but maybe I missed that part of the Schoolhouse Rock.

Something, bruised and tattered, limped out of the House earlier this week, shied away from a veto threat, and threw itself upon the mercy of the Senate. Carnage ensued, and now the bloody remains are being sent back to the House to see if they approve (“I wonder who that sad little scrap of paper is”, indeed). Basically, what’s left is:

1) CAFE standards. Average vehicle mileage will rise to 35mpg by 2020. Really now, our fuel efficiency standards are at 1975 levels, and even the Chinese have more restrictive fuel efficiency ratings. This raise is not at all a hardship to the auto industry, who fight it tooth and nail and yet advertise their “earth-friendliness” with virescent logos and promises of hybrids and electrics and fuel cell research they could make into cars for us any year now. It’s about time, and I bet in a couple years people will come to see 35 by 2020 as the baby step it is.

2) Subsidies for corn-based and a few other biofuels, with requirements that production of these be increased 7-fold by 2022. Considering how much harm corn ethanol subsidies have already directly caused, I have no idea why this is a good idea. I agree on this point with the Oil industry. It makes worlds of sense to mandate biofuel production, but not to require it from specific sources.

What’s not there anymore:

1) Tax increases/reduction of cuts for oil companies. It’s very precious that Democrats are the only ones making efforts at fiscal responsibility these days: the tax revenue was going to help pay for some of these changes. Republicans will have none of it, because those poor oil companies need every cent of their record profits to look for more oil to sell us to make more record profits.  Dems won’t insist on the flashes of fiscal responsibility, of course- they’re not in a position to insist upon much these days.   I will digress a minute to ask when Republicans lost their ability to make the choices necessary to be fiscally responsible. No, Bush refusing to spend money on domestic issues and writing a blank check to the Defense Department doesn’t count (literally). Claim your party still is all you like, but the way your people in DC are voting speaks louder than you. Come on, reclaim your heritage! Democrats are stealing all your credibility! For shame. Whatever, it’s not like this bill is making expensive, real changes anyway, and I’m sure our credit is still good somewhere. We’ll invoke the money somehow.

2) Incentives for renewable energy development (wind, solar, geothermal, magic, etc.). It’s just a waste of voting time to pass an Energy Bill without these, but apparently the Senate and the White House don’t like the idea. The omnibus spending bill lurching it’s way through Congress does have a little salve for this (what is it doing there?):

The agreement, to be included in a broad government spending bill, would authorize the Energy Department to guarantee loans for various energy projects, making financing far easier.

The agreement would guarantee loans of up to $25 billion for new nuclear plants and $2 billion for a uranium enrichment plant, something those industries had been avidly seeking. It would also provide guarantees of up to $10 billion for renewable energy projects, $10 billion for plants to turn coal into liquid vehicle fuel and $2 billion to turn coal into natural gas.

Ah, so it’s spending on nuclear power and look! There’s coal again! Sheesh. There’s a nod to renewables, at least.

So the bill doesn’t do much good, props up a few bad ideas, is unfunded anyway, and Bush still might veto it. I continue to be underwhelmed, Government.


3 Responses to “Enervated”

  1. 1 Biking Person December 14, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Ugh. This is why I stopped reading the newspapers. At least TV is all FLOODS! SNOW! STEROIDS! BASEBALL! over and over and is just inane rather than pathetic.

  2. 2 Biking Person December 14, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    hah. compare that to this proposed bill across the pond, that pushes for 33 gigawatts of wind power by 2020. Makes us look like sticks in the mud… or desert… or whatever.

  3. 3 virescent December 14, 2007 at 8:41 pm

    Yeah, speaking of things that make me want to spit- so many other governments are so far ahead of our own on these issues, and I’m confused as to why we haven’t caught up. Maybe it’s that America traditionally has felt that we have unlimited resources so we need to make no changes, or maybe we just don’t take advice well? So tempting to blame it on the current administration, but they’re not the only ones stonewalling on change- just, they’re the ones we send to international conferences to “represent” us. It will become more obvious next year who’s the biggest obstacle to progress.

    The British plan seems pretty serious, actually, which is awesome- hopefully I can post more about it soon.

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