29 July, 2005

Energy bill (reprise)

Two follow-ups on the energy bill (which just got through the House):

1. Henry Waxman (D-CA) has been circulating a letter he wrote to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert complaining about a provision that snuck its way into the bill after debate was closed. It's ostensibly a $1.5 billion fund for offshore deep water drilling, but Waxman says language in the bill implies it's pork stuck in there by Tom DeLay, directed at the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America consortium, which is in his district. As evidence he cites the bill text: The subtitle, however, directs the Department to "contract with a corporation that is constructed as a consortium." Pretty gross, but really not as bad as the bill itself. This is just theft of public resources and massive, criminal abuse of public trust. That's fucking over the entire country and possibly the world.

2. The EPA decided to hold back on releasing its report on fuel efficiency trends at the last minute, probably to allow passage of this energy bill. The report shows that various loopholes (i.e., SUVs, basically) have allowed fuel efficiency to DROP since 1987 - the fleet average is down from 22.1 mpg then to 21.0 now. Igniting a debate about CAFE standards would have done poorly for a bill that does nothing to improve vehicle efficiency (probably the easiest way to cut back on oil consumption).

McClellan dodges:
Q Did the White House ask the EPA to hold it back as a way to ensure that it didn't get in the way of passage --

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think it really has any relation to the energy bill, but you might want to talk to the EPA about it.
...but there's really no question on what happened. The executive summary of the report says:
Fuel economy continues to be a major area of public and policy interest for several reasons, including:
1. Fuel economy is directly related to energy security because light-duty vehicles account for approximately 40 percent of all U.S. oil consumption, and much of this oil is imported.
2. Fuel economy is directly related to the cost of fueling a vehicle and is of great interest when crude oil and gasoline prices rise.
3. Fuel economy is directly related to emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Light-duty vehicles contribute about 20 percent of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.
Doesn't get more explicit than that.

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