House Republicans and Energy Policy: When Will the Politics End?

I woke up this morning in an inexplicably good mood.  Thankfully, all I had to do to remove the bounce from my step and restore my equilibrium was open up a newspaper and read about the House Republican energy bill.  So put on your seatbelt and get ready to leave the reality-based community behind for a liquefied-coal powered ride into the world of desperate Republican politicking.

In contrast to the bi-partisan energy bill moving through the Senate, House Republicans are scurrying to pass a divisive energy bill in the 3 weeks before Congress goes into recess.  The plan may sound familiar, or it may just sound like a broken record, because once again Republicans are trying to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  This time they seem to realize that ripping up ANWR is not going to end our over-dependence on foreign oil.  They must have read the Energy Information Agency report which reveals that at peak production, twenty years from when drilling begins, oil from ANWR would only meet 1%-2% of domestic energy needs.   

In an impressive case of mission creep, House Republicans have given up emphasizing the minimal and far-off economic impact of drilling in ANWR, and are instead arguing that royalties collected from oil companies could be used to finance an “Energy Independence Trust Fund.”  You may remember the idea of an Energy Trust Fund from 2004, when it was at the center of John Kerry’s energy proposal.  House Republicans should try to arrange a photo-op with the junior Senator from Massachusetts to celebrate their slightly belated support for his energy plan.  Perhaps not though, as their trust fund would support greenhouse gas-producing coal and ethanol technology, whereas Kerry’s called for strengthening fuel efficiency, retooling factories and providing incentives to buy hybrid vehicles.  Of course, we could have that trust fund today if Congress would collect reasonable royalties from companies already drilling on federal land and rescind the $2.8 billion dollars in tax cuts and incentives that oil executives admit they don't need.  Just a thought. 



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