Entry for October 09, 2005

The above graphic is from the energyhog.org, a project of the

Alliance to Save Energy.

Republican leaders extended vote 40 minutes to pass their refinery bill…

Does a cash-rich oil industry enjoying huge profits over the past year really need government help to build refineries?  Should it really  avoid environmental regulations? Should it price-gouge thanks to the weakening of the Federal Trade Commission?

Yes, according to Representative Joe Barton of Texas, who submitted the “Gasoline for America’s Security Act of 2005” on September 26.   Using hurricanes Katrina and Rita as justification, he  proposed to  reduce  environmental and other regulations affecting refineries under the Clean Air Act.

Save Our Environment, a coalition of environmental groups launched a campaign, arguing the  bill would:

  imperil public health and safety while doing nothing to reduce gasoline prices or increase energy security.  Under the guise of hurricane relief, the bill advances a longstanding industry agenda to roll back key protections in the Clean Air Act.  For communities across the country, the consequences would be devastating: millions of additional tons of air pollution and thus more heart attacks, lung cancers, asthma attacks, and premature deaths.

So did Republicans for Environmental Protection, arguing that

Congress should be helping Americans use energy more efficiently and speeding up fuel diversification. Instead, the House is planning to… endanger public health while doing nothing to lessen oil dependence.

It looked like the bill would fail when it came up for a vote this past Friday. October 7.  The orignal vote was then held open for over forty minutes until it passed by two votes.  

Truthout.org noted that  

The Republican Leadership abuses its power in the chair, and holds votes open for the sole purpose of reversing the outcome of the vote on a regular basis. On five separate occasions in the 108th Congress alone, votes were held open beyond the traditional 17 – minute limit in order to overturn the will of the majority. These votes include the infamous 3 – hour Prescription Drug vote in November 2003, which went far beyond any previous vote and broke all records in the history of electronic voting. By comparison, in 1987, the Republicans excoriated the Democratic Leadership for holding a vote open for only 30 minutes.

The Alliance to Save Energy, a  coalition of  government, environmental, and consumer leaders who promote the efficient and clean use of energy worldwide to benefit consumers, the environment, economy, and national security.  ASE has  decried passage of House Resolution 3893 as being short-sighted by not encouraging the role of energy efficiency. 

[T]he bill does little to tap the vast potential of energy efficiency to reduce demand in the short run and thereby provide much more immediate relief to Americans hard-pressed by spiraling energy costs.

ASE  recommends  increases and reforms to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements, and/or exploring market-based replacements to CAFE like a feebate, as the number one way to lower consumer spending at the pump and wean America off its oil addition.  For other  recommendations, look here.

For an analysis, see  Energy Hog Lessons,  by Truthout’s environmental editor Kelpie Wilson

 To track the bill  as it moves on to the Senate, type in “H.R.  3893” on the search page of Thomas, the Library of Congress’s legislative information site.

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