According to the new York Times, the new energy legislation bill clear the senate on Thursday, but only after the oil and utilities lobbies convinced Republican senators to cut out some of the most important aspects of the bill.
A $13 billion tax increase on oil companies and a requirement that utilities nationwide produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources were left on the floor to secure Republican votes for the package.
The tax measure and the renewable electricity mandate were included in an energy bill that easily passed the House last week. But industry lobbyists focused their attention on Republican members of the Senate and on the White House, which repeatedly threatened to veto the bill if the offending sections were not removed.
The much weaker bill passed the senate 86-8. The bill now returns to the house where it is expected to pass easily. President Bush is reportedly pleased with the bill in it’s current form.
“We made sure that everybody knew our point of view – the White House, the House, the Senate,” said James Ford, director of government affairs at the American Petroleum Institute. “We told our story and told it thoroughly.”
Mr. Ford said that even with the tax provisions removed, the oil industry had concerns about meeting the bill’s requirement that 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels be blended into gasoline by 2022.
Now I personally believe that tax increases can be a powerful motivator to encourage corporations to move in the direction that benefit the public as a whole. In the preamble to the constitution and in article one section 8 it states that our governments job and our reason for levying taxes is to among other things, “promote the general welfare of the people”; not just the people in the oil industry.
That said I understand people opposing new taxes on pretty much anything; even though I don’t necessarily agree with that position I can understand it. But to take away the mandate to require 15 percent of electricity from renewable energy is beyond me. We need to move away from fossil fuels and we need to do so quickly; and the very nature of a large means that they cannot do such a thing unless there is a sound financial or legal incentive to do so.
So, if you disagree with this watering down of the energy bill write your senator a letter letting them know about it. We can’t blame our representatives for only listening to the lobbyist if the lobbyists’ are they only ones they are hearing from.