Republicans Block Anemic Energy Bill for Oil Industry July 28, 2010Posted by Jamie Friedland in Climate Change, Congress, Offshore Drilling, Politics.
Tags: Clean Air Act, Congress, Energy Bill, EPA, Fracking, Harry Reid, Inhofe, Jay Rockefeller, Lamar Alexander, Lisa Murkowski, Mark Begich, Oil Spill, Politics, Senate, ThePoliticalClimate
Despite the weakness of the pending oil spill/“energy” bills introduced in the House and Senate this week, Big Oil and their Congressional allies are doing everything they can to make sure we do not learn from BP’s unforgiveable mistakes.
100 days after the Deepwater Horizon spill began, Republicans oppose each of the small shuffles down the right path that these bills contain.
For example, anti-science champion Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) takes exception with a provision that requires natural gas drillers to merely disclose which toxic chemicals they are injecting into the ground near our drinking water supplies during the controversial practice known as “hydraulic fracturing” or “fracking.”
Why does Inhofe oppose the simple disclosure of that information? Because Inhofe and the industry claim that the dangers of toxic chemicals in drinking water are overblown.
Comprehensive energy reform is already dead, and even these bills, which could only euphemistically be called “half-hearted”, have a slim chance because Republicans claim that there is little room for compromise. That is a disgusting claim. These bills are already grotesquely compromised. They were so thoroughly watered down in hopes of attracting the necessary supermajority that they are scarcely progress at all. To demand more compromise calls to mind a limbo player lying on the floor.
Republicans most vehemently oppose lifting the liability cap on oil companies that defile our nation’s environment. They say that expecting oil companies to pay for the full consequences of the damage they cause will drive “mom and pop” oil companies out of business. That is hardly a defense of limited liability: if that claim is true, perhaps mom and pop should pursue less risky projects.
Republicans are fighting to preserve the apparent right of every oil company, big or small, to remain blameless for the oil spills they continue to cause in American waters. That is senseless.
With midterm elections approaching, Republicans are pretending to have solutions of their own; toward that end, they are circulating an even bigger joke of an energy bill. Their “alternative” bill contains energy “solutions” such as lifting the deepwater drilling moratorium and preventing the administration from blocking offshore drilling again. You know, the change we need.
However, the Republican bill does contain a provision that unfortunately may influence the Democratic bills. Instead of unlimited liability for oil companies that cause spills (making them pay for all the damage they cause), Republicans have a different idea: ironically, the party of limited government wants to make the Department of the Interior set liability limits on each individual rig based on 13 different criteria, including a company’s safety record and the estimated risks involved with the specific location.
This is just another way to protect Big Oil and make sure that taxpayers are the ones who have to pay to clean up oil spills. Oil state Democratic Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Mark Begich (D-AK) are attempting to broker a compromise on oil spill liability.
There is one additional point that must be mentioned. Many Republicans are trotting out this line in various forms:
“This is a serious subject and it deserves consideration by the United States Senate on behalf of the American people. We are ready for a serious debate, but it appears the Majority Leader is not.” –Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
This complaint is not just about the bill’s expedited timeline. It is true that Sen. Reid is trying to have an energy bill passed by the August recess. Yet perhaps more importantly, Sen. Reid is unlikely to allow any amendments to be added to this bill.
Such a parliamentary maneuver is necessary because Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is poised with his amendment to delay the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act; the final regulatory bulwark of climate action in the United States.
Rockefeller’s amendment, about which I will write more soon, is similar to Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) “Dirty Air Act” amendment that was narrowly defeated in June. If amendments were allowed, she too would certainly poison this bill with something similar. Indeed, Murkowski is considering adding the amendment to an unrelated small-business bill as she tirelessly does the bidding of Big Oil in the U.S. Senate.