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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Delayed Bait and Switch

From the conventional news sources, we see highlights of the energy bill reported in bullet points:
* Bans oil drilling in the Great Lakes.
Well, I suppose I can put a ban on panning for gold in my bathtub, as if it made a difference one way or another.

But this reporting works effectively as a bait and switch tactic to demonstrate how much sensitivity the minions (and millions) of BushCo followers show to environmentally friendly energy policy, while they trash other areas that typically don't get reported.

The definition of the "camel's nose in the tent" appears when you see the following two items grouped together:
* Requires an inventory of offshore oil and natural gas resources, including areas off Florida where drilling is banned.

* Gives Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, not the states, exclusive authority to approve LNG import terminals.
Mike Malloy of AAR buzzsaws through all this phoniness on his show tonight. He hits at a minimum of three things right on the head.

Malloy first pointed out the "under five acre" provision for exceptions to fossil fuel extraction pollution controls:
Since 1970, the federal government has been required under the National Environmental Policy Act to assess the impact of federal actions. In recent years, some activists have used this law to challenge the rapid expansion of oil, and especially gas drilling in the West. This year's version of the energy bill passed by the House includes provisions to limit the environmental impact reviews of certain oil and natural gas operations. Proposed changes would affect reviews of individual drilling sites of less than five acres and disposal of wastewater from coalbed methane wells, if states have already allowed it.
This basically states that the vast majority of stripper wells, which sit on a whole lot less than an acre of land, have immunity to environmental laws. How convenient, and we will see lots of ads for get-rich schemes to install a derrick in your backyard, or maybe in your bathtub.

Secondly, Malloy pointed out even more transparent exceptions for polluters :
WONSTOLEN: The second provision would make it clear that hydraulic fracturing, which is a method of completing wells and stimulating formations to release gas primarily from tight, underground formations, is not subject to the underground injection control program of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

RAHER: Wonstolen says the Safe Drinking Water Act exemption is an important step that allows the oil and gas industry to develop more wells in a time when energy supplies are tight. But Nancy Sorenson, a Wyoming rancher, and volunteer with Western Organization of Resource Councils, says the industry doesn't need any more help.
Pretty scary stuff, as hydraulic fracturing involves explosives underground, which could do a number on aquifers, let alone the long-standing MTBE-style contamination.

Lastly, Malloy pointed out the disgusting Tom Delay rider on the bill:
Waxman said the $1.5 billion fund for ultra-deepwater drilling was added to the final energy bill this week after House and Senate negotiators called a halt to any more amendments. The 30-page measure appeared in the text of the energy bill after Texas Rep. Joe Barton had officially ended the House and Senate conference committee to combine legislation passed by each chamber, he said.

"Obviously, it would be a serious abuse to secretly slip such a costly and controversial provision into the energy legislation," Waxman said in a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

A spokesman for DeLay defended the fund, saying it was in the energy bill approved by the House in April.

"The project is only new to Mr. Waxman if he failed to read the House bill he had voted on," the spokesman said, adding he could not explain how the item was added to the final version of legislation prepared by the Senate and House negotiators.

Waxman said the fund would steer most of the money to a private consortium based in Sugar Land, DeLay's home district, by directing the Energy Department to "contract with a corporation that is constructed as a consortium."

Members of the consortium, Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, include Halliburton Co., Marathon Oil Corp. and several universities, according to the group's web site.

For the definition of criminal, see more here and from a Henry Waxman flash report.

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