Sunday, August 17, 2008
Washington is simply stuck. Sometimes this may be good, other times bad but when important issues that affect Americans and business are ignored, all lose. The earmark system is an example of a system gone amok. My understanding is that local governments can request that their DC representative request money for X project. In the past, the project was raised in Congress, the merits were debated and a decision to allocate or not allocate the funds was made.
Unfortunately, the system has lost its transparency. Today earmarks are slipped into bills without debate, without voting, without transparency to the taxpayer. What Congressman Kline did in 2007 was say, "No more. We've got to fix the system (ie, make it transparent)." There were 12 Congressmen who agreed with him; in 2008, there are approximately 50 who have signed on board. We, the taxpayers, foot the bills for such stupid earmarks as the researching the fruit fly in Paris, France. Excuse me, the French can do their own research.
In 2007, the USA imported 4,915,957,000 barrels of crude oil and petroleum products from all countries. The price per barrel was significantly lower than in 2008 when prices have ranged from $84/barrel in January to $125 in June, and reached $140 in July/August. Bottom line: through May of 2008, Americans spent over $193,000,000,000 for oil imports.
The Republicans have proposed the American Energy Act, an all-encompassing energy plan to free the US from the potential shackles of foreign oil producers. Counter to what much of the press is reporting, the Republican energy bill is thorough. It supports: Increased conservation; increased alternative energy sources; increased nuclear; increased oil refineries; opening the Outer Continental Shelf and North slope of AK for oil and gas drilling. However, the Democrats won't allow the bill to come to the floor of the House for a vot. Their maneuvers, described below, show that they really don't care about Americans.
The US House of Representatives has a procedure whereby any member who is on the floor is allowed to speak for 5 minutes. On August 4, 2008 when Republicans were lined up to speak on energy, as is their right by House rules, Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi (San Fran Nan) and her buddies forced adjournment for the next five weeks, turned off the lights and microphones. This procedure denied Republican representatives their right to speak.
Hm, what to do? Another rule says if a House member is speaking, visitors can be seated on the House floor. Republicans rounded up visitors inside the Capitol, invited them to the House floor because Republicans believe Americans should be represented- their representatives should have a vote on energy bills. These actions have been continued for the past two weeks.
Why won't the House Democrat leadership allow a vote? The bill would pass because many Democrats are in favor of it. But, there are problems. The Democrat leadership is beholden to the environmentalist lobby (as well as trial lawyers and the teachers' unions). We have been fed a bill of goods on the damage to the environment. This is ludicrous - no nation drills, processes and transports fuels as cleanly as Americans. (An aside, a Norwegian acquaintance of mine who is working in the Gulf of Mexico says the Mexican drilling sites are no where near as clean as the American platform sites and ours are 30+ years old.)
The numbers are all over the map but sending $500,000,000,000 or more a year to overseas oil suppliers, many of whom would like to see us disappear is just dumb.
The briefest summary of the root cause of our energy problem is the actions taken by environmentalists and Democrats over the past 30+ years that have literally prevented the US from building nuclear plants and refineries, drilling for its own oil, mining clean coal, etc. Already we have made significant investments in alternative energy sources and will continue to do so. However none has proven financially viable for a large marketplace, yet. In time, yes but not now.
The House did pass an excuse for an energy bill, HR 6 which will be the topic of a separate post.