Democrats & Liberals Archives

Republican Rings of Corruption

IV - Republican/Energy Industry Ring

Oilman Cheney was placed in charge of the Energy Task Force early in President Bush’s first term. Who attended? Secret. Who wrote the conclusions? Secret. What were the conclusions? Secret. Who benefited? No secret here. We can tell from the legislation which did not pass last year and which is being pushed this year that the winners of tax deductions, subsidies and other goodies are the petroleum, gas, nuclear, coal and electricity generation companies - all big contributors to Republican officeholders.

They gave to Democrats too, but not as much. After all, Democrats are constantly advocating conservation, keeping our environment clean, and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels by supporting renewable energy sources. How could they make money doing such silly things?

Last year, the House passed a Christmas-tree of an energy bill, but the Senate did not. In the year leading up to this legislation, the old firms in the energy industry made investments to assure their success: they donated money to campaigns and bought lobbyists. According to a Boston Globe study:

  • The energy industry as a whole spent more than $287 million
  • The Petroleum Institute spent $3,140,000
  • The Nuclear Energy Institute spent $1,280,000
  • The Edison Electric Institute spent $12, 540,000; they had a team of 35 lobbyists
Last year's bill had giveaways for all these industries. One outrageous part of the bill would prevent people from suing companies causing pollution from MTBE, an additive to gasoline. This was one of the reasons it foundered in the Senate.

Recently, the House passed an energy bill, not much different from the previous one. It has lots of goodies, in addition to those mentioned above. A small sample:

  • Massey Energy of West Virginia gets hundreds of million of dollars as loan guarantees for a coal gasification plant. The director, James H. "Buck" Harless, is a major Bush fund-raiser
  • Southern Company, an electricity company, gets relaxed regulations on emissions of mercury, a toxin released from power plants. It spent $990,000 lobbying
  • DestiNY USA, a planned shopping complex for upstate New York, billed as the biggest mall in the world, would be filled with 400 retailers, thousands of hotel rooms, a 65-acre glass-enclosed indoor park, a rock- and ice-climbing wall, and a theater suitable for Broadway shows, is slated to get $100 million of your tax dollars
  • PUHCA, the Public Utility Holding Company Act, one of the best consumer protection acts in existence, is killed to pay back the electric utilities
  • MTBE producers may not be sued regardless of the pollution damage done. Corruption ringmaster Tom DeLay is mainly responsible for insisting it be in the bill
  • Drilling in the Arctic Refuge is OK'd
Now the energy bill is in the Senate. The MTBE provision is not in the bill; Republicans said it would be considered separately. Drilling for oil in the Arctic, too, will be considered separately. This, plus the fact that Energy Committee Chairman Senator Dominici asked Democrat Jeff Bingaman to help him with the legislation, makes the bill "bipartisan." Hallelujah!

We hear that Democrats added a measure that requires the president to reduce US oil demand by 1 million barrels per day by 2015. The president is against this. Why? The White House said:

It would “effectively require a rapid, near-term increase” in vehicle fuel standards, which could have “undesirable safety impacts.”

Democrats also want to boost tax breaks for renewable sources of energy. What does the White House think about this?

"Setting renewable goals should be left to states, and more study is needed before the United States takes further action on climate change."

Got it? We need Democrats to be involved. But don't expect any Democratic ideas to be enacted. When the bill gets into conference and Tom DeLay gets his hands on it, he will get rid of all the stupid Democratic notions about renewables and conservation of energy.

Conclusion: In this Republican revolution, you get what you pay for. All those who contribute, are rewarded. All others - FOGETABOUTIT!

Boston Globe

Posted by Paul Siegel at June 15, 2005 5:55 PM