Senate Passes Energy Bill Increasing Car Efficiency Standards, Republicans Still Bought Out By Big Oil.
In a partial victory on June 21st, the Senate passed a new energy bill that requires a "10 in 10", or 10 mpg increase in 10 years, to 35 mpg for auto manufacturers' CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards. Not suprisingly, the American auto industry was out in gangbusters fighting this resolution and although this was a heavy blow to their unscrupulous production of gas-guzzling monstrosities, their friends in the oil and energy industries bought their way out of the parts of the bill that would have cost them money. Other provisions of this energy bill included raising taxes on oil companies that would have generated $32 billion dollars for tax breaks on alternative energy and fuels as well as legislation requiring electric utilities to significantly increase energy produced from renewable sources. The former was blocked by aggressive campaigning by the oil lobbyists, and the latter was blocked by, according to the NY Times, "Republicans."
So here we have a bittersweet victory. Over the next 10 years, American car makers must increase their fleet's average fuel economy to a whopping 35 mpg. They have already been complaining that this will cost an extra $5000-$7000 per car and "it's not fair, foreign manufacturers have been able to meet these standards for years, how will we sell our SUVs, how will we continue to ignore the destruction of the environment so that we can make more money?" OK, I'm paraphrasing, but they were definitely whining.
Lobbyist/government rant: My biggest issue is, how could our Congress, representing the best interests of the people of the United States, in good conscience have allowed oil and energy companies to dictate the future of our national energy policy? I know this is a completely naive question, but when there is blatant corruption and bribery afoot, how can it be allowed to go on? It's disgusting and an insult to our founding fathers and what America is supposed to and used to stand for.
Governmental procedure rant: Looking through the Thomas Database, the Library of Congress's legislative search engine to write about this topic, I found multiple resolutions submitted for alternative energy programs, incentives, efficiency increases, and various other excellent ideas for decreasing our energy dependence. I can't, however, imagine a less efficient way to run a government. Anybody can take time and manpower to research and generate their own proposal, it gets submitted, eventually reviewed by a committee, kicked around, filed, revised, filed again, brought forth for review, potentially debated, revised again, scheduled for another review, reviewed, loopholes and earmarks added, debated again, revised again, and maybe brought forth for a vote. Multiply this by hundreds of proposals that may be redundant, poorly informed, supported by special interests and corporate lobbyists (legal bribery), and it's no wonder we can't get anything done!
Kudos to The Union of Concerned Scientists and Physicians for Social Responsibility for their group letter writing efforts that helped to get this passed. Keep up the activism, keep writing your Representatives and Senators, these efforts do make a difference, however small.