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article imageOp-Ed: New offshore drilling bill another ‘wake-up call’ for Americans Special

By Lynn Herrmann     May 9, 2011 in Politics
Washington - As gasoline prices continue surging almost on the same level as oil company CEO compensation packages, House Republicans late last week passed a bill that would force the White House to allow more offshore drilling.
House Republican-sponsored, the Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act passed late last week, mostly along party lines, 266-149, and is designed to pressure President Obama to open up oil lease sales activities and, ultimately, increase offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and off Virginia’s coast. It is the first of three bills House Republicans have fast-tracked for offshore drilling, and some Americans are getting annoyed.
A total of 33 Democrats hooked up with 233 Republicans to support the measure. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-WA, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and the bill’s sponsor, said: “The pain being felt today has been exacerbated by the actions of the Obama administration,” Huffington Post reports.
The pain, however, that most Americans are currently experiencing over these high gas prices is likely a foreign concept to politicians bedded with big oil’s luscious campaign contributions.
John Dodds, owner of Dodds Family Tree Nursery in Fredericksburg, Texas, told Digital Journal on Monday that our days of cheap oil are over and Americans are going to have to adjust. “Freight’s more expensive, and that’s just the way it is. We get what we pay for, and we don’t have energy efficient vehicles. Therefore, we pay more. We’ve had warning after warning that called for increased fuel efficiency.”
That lagging in fuel efficiency standards has led America to its current condition, dependent on consumption. “The efficiency is out there, but we refuse to promote it. I’ve tried to buy an efficient vehicle for my business, it’s just not out there,” Dodds said.
On the subject of the Republican-sponsored bill approved by the House last week, Dodds noted: “Offshore drilling is not the answer. Efficiency and alternative fuel is the answer. Period. We had a wake-up call in the ‘70s with the oil embargo. Did we change? No, we got worse, and we’re not any better today. We Americans think we have the right to take as much as we can. Well, those days are over.”
With American politics currently enjoying the benefits of oil and gas contributions, there is likely little that we can do, as the corruption is likely to spread, using the electoral process as its breeding ground.
John Dodds  going over plant selections with Marisol Hernandez  said more offshore drilling is not t...
John Dodds, going over plant selections with Marisol Hernandez, said more offshore drilling is not the answer and Americans must face their new wake-up call.
Dodds sees the country’s future, controlled by corrupt politicians, as part of the complex web of wealth separation that the working class has been sucked into, with last year’s Supreme Court ruling setting the stage for unlimited campaign contributions for future elections. “We get liars, cheaters, and thieves. These guys are upper class, christian, go to church, and have robbed us blind. Oil and gas buys what it wants. The haves and have nots are getting further apart,” Dodds continued.
In part, the Republican-led legislation would call for the Department of Interior (DOI)
to auction offshore oil and gas leases in the Central and Western Gulf of Mexico, as well as in an area off the coast of Virginia.
Those auction leases would occur “as soon as practicable” and within four months to a year, depending on their offshore location, of the measure’s passage.
Opponents of the bill, however, have recommended little, other than noting the bill is yet another notch in big oil’s handle of world dominance, with no relief for Americans who, until they learn how to unite as one and create their own protest movement (one would think that by watching enough of these occurring in the Middle East and North Africa we’d have figured something out by now) that will gather the collective thought processes of “elected” political leaders, must continue dealing with the stark realities of those rising gasoline prices.
With Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson leading the way in the 2010 pay package race, coming in on top with a paltry $21.5 million (it’s just a thought for all the Exxon card holders out there), the top five oil companies reported combined 2011 first quarter profits of more than $35 billion (and that’s for all the top five oil company card holders).
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi stated the obvious: “Republicans have brought to the floor another ‘drill only’ bill that would not bring down prices at the pump,” the New York Times reports. No, Nancy, not in this lifetime. “It’s a boon to Big OIl that would make another catastrophic oil spill more likely,” Pelosi added.
Should the bill somehow survive a Senate vote, Republican-owned Democratic President Obama is unlikely to veto the measure, even as he said just a week ago that tax breaks for the oil and gas industry “aren’t smart.”
In that weekly address, the president also said: “An investment in clean energy today is an investment in a better tomorrow. And I think that’s an investment worth making.” I think it’s an investment that needs to get its act in gear, but barackstar’s ideas on oil and gas exploration in the Gulf go something like this. And this. And this.
Although the administration “opposes” the Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act (a more appropriate title could have been the “Wait ‘Til We Screw You and the Earth on This One Act), there is little chance the political posturing currently underway by Democrats and Republicans will appease Americans.
According to the administration (pdf), HR1230
would hastily open areas of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic to leasing, including requiring the Department of the Interior (DOI) to hold three lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico using outdated NEPA analysis that was conducted before the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Most Republicans were likely thinking: “Uh, yeah, and your point is?” The point is that this leads us to the next point, HR1229, a bill that would require decisions on new offshore drilling applications within 30 days.
Although two 15 day extensions would be permissible, with DOI being required to submit “burdensome justifications” for so doing, those decisions become irrelevant at the end of 60 days, where the bill allows the automatic granting of permits,
regardless of whether the applicant satisfied safety standards.
That is according to the Obama administration. Yet, with veto powers limply in his grasp, the president was likely thinking: “Boy, some Americans might not like this,” and the GOP guys were, well, uh, you know.
In an effort to counter the Republican agenda for more offshore drilling, Rep. Tim Bishop, D-NY, introduced an energy bill aimed at eliminating some of the tax breaks major oil producers are currently enjoying, a move Obama called for in his weekly address a week ago.
The Taxpayer and Gas Price Relief Act (HR1748) is a comprehensive energy bill containing some of the provisions of his Big OIl Welfare Repeal Act (HR1689) introduced earlier last week.
Bishop estimates HR1748 would reduce the federal deficit by almost $31 billion over a ten-year period.
“Right now, Big Oil has its hand in the consumer's left pocket every day they fill up, and their right pocket on tax day,” Bishop said, Accounting Today reports. “Repealing the subsidies will not affect prices at the pump, but it will end the outrageous practice of giving nearly 3 billion taxpayer dollars a year to wildly profitable corporations. Make no mistake, these billion-dollar giveaways to Big Oil do nothing, repeat nothing, to lower oil prices.”
American tax payers subsidize oil producers, with that subsidy benefit being passed on to shareholders, not back to the consuming tax payer. According to Accounting Today, a recent report showed that, in 2010, the largest oil companies spent 60 percent of profits on dividends and stock repurchaases, with just 18 percent spent on exploration.
Obama, speaking on Friday during an energy policy speech in Indiana, said: “We can’t just drill our way out of the problem. If we’re serious about addressing our energy problems, we’re going to have to do more than drill,” The Hill reports.
House Republicans defeated a motion to bring the Big Oil Welfare Repeal Act to the floor for a vote, instead being focused on legislation exclusively aimed at new offshore drilling.
As early as this week, Senate Democrats are expected to bring a similar tax bill that would repeal those industry tax breaks to a vote. That too would be a mere formality, and the American public, having grown increasingly annoyed with the high price of fuel, are just as likely to become even more annoyed with politicians merely jockeying for the general election, waiting for corporate money.
“None of them have been held accountable. Look at banking and Wall Street. We rescued them, and they’re still getting performance bonuses. Enough is enough. Integrity is no longer important,” Dodds said, noting Americans will buy whatever propaganda the government provides.
“Why should we be scared of people in foreign countries. It’s our own who have crashed the economy. All for their greed. They knew what they were doing, it was premeditated economic terrorism, with no accountability. The working class bailed them out, and now look what we’ve got,” Dodds added, speaking of things which many Americans are in denial over.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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