Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

Today I taped an upcoming TV debate criticizing the House Republican vote to defund the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions as ordered by the US Supreme Court. My opponent in the debate, Fred Smith, argued that Obama’s EPA was a “rogue” agency hell-bent on killing jobs and harming small businesses. I reminded Mr. Smith that Obama’s EPA ordered that small businesses be exempt from the proposed greenhouse gas emission rules, as only large entities emitting at least 25,000 tons of CO2 per year would be subject to the regulations. Now, it is unclear whether the EPA can legally exclude such small emitters from the rules, as the Clean Air Act doesn’t expressly allow for it. But instead of working with the Administration on clarifying the law to ensure that we have a science-based approach to addressing climate change that goes after major corporate polluters while holding small businesses harmless, but instead they are pursuing a cynical strategy to demonize public health protections and question the science. This is particularly appauling given the high-profile flip-flop of Rep. Fred Upton, who in the recent past acknowledged the science behind climate change and supported legislative efforts to address it – but now leads the effort to attack the science and demonize efforts to protect public health. Shame, Mr. Upton, Shame.

Tyson Slocum Directs Public Citizen’s Energy Program

With Oil prices briefly breaching $100/barrel, some are dusting off the tired playbook of “drill baby drill” and calling for an expansion of domestic oil and gas drilling – ignoring the point that opening up “access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions [currently off-limits] would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.” The Energy Information Administration estimates that if the ban on drilling remains in place, that “the average U.S. price of motor gasoline price is 3 cents per gallon higher” than if we open these areas to drilling. That’s because the US isn’t Saudi Arabia: we sit on only 1.6% of the world’s oil reserves, while the Saudis have 20%. Dumping our little pond of oil into the giant sea of global reserves can’t make a significant dent on our imports or impact prices.

Some argue that recent unrest in Egypt & Libya present legitimate threats to supply and therefore justify the oil price run-up. While Libya is an oil exporter, the Saudis have already lined up replacement exports and it doesn’t appear that the protests engulfing the region are going to hit Saudi Arabia anytime soon.

What will make a significant dent in the short term is clamping down on the excessive speculation that’s driving the higher prices. To be sure, speculation has a necessary role, but it’s one thing for speculators to operate on the margins, and it’s quite another for them to dominate and drive the market. Congress understood this when they passed the Dodd-Frank Act last year, which, among other things, ordered the CFTC to restore transparency to these energy trading markets. But under intense industry lobbying, the CFTC is punting on some of the more critical rules, including establishing firm position limits.

So here’s what Congress can do right away to address the problem:

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Just because the Bush administration is out doesn’t mean the battle with the corporate lobbying machine is over. This week has been a busy one for Public Citizen and our efforts to fight for reforms that benefit the American public. Check out these news highlights.

CQ Politics quotes Public Citizen’s campaign finance reform lobbyist in an excellent piece about Senate Finance chairman Max Baucus (D-Mon) going fishing for dollars at a $2,500 per person fundraising event.

“It’s unseemly to be doing this just before the markup,” said [Public Citizen’s Craig] Holman, referring to pending committee action on Baucus’ draft health care bill. “This kind of schmoozing of lawmakers clearly buys influence. This kind of event clearly shows why we need public financing.”

The Associated Press called on Tyson Slocum, Public Citizen’s energy program director, to comment on the oil industry’s amped-up effort to lobby, baby, lobby; already, Big Oil has spent $44.5 million trying to get Congress to see things its way. Time to fight back.

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by Susan Barba, intern at Public Citizen’s Energy Program

Congressmen Mike Pence (R-Ind.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) in Thursday’s piece in the Wall Street Journal, “The GOP’s Energy Alternative,” outline the Republican-sponsored American Energy Act, which calls for the immediate revitalization of nuclear power in response to a Democratic bill that focuses on limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

They tout this act to be a savior for United States’ energy policy and end their piece by asking the question: “can there be any doubt what path is best for the country?” Well, yes, there can be.

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