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Opinion and Commentary

2005 Energy Bill, Page 2


Fiscal conservatives are worried about budget impacts. The conservative National Review (according to the Financial Times - subscribe/trial) criticized the bill:
In an online editorial just a day before Mr Bush spoke, the staunchly conservative National Review called the energy bill, rich with industry incentives, and the $286.5bn highway bill, loaded with pork-barrel projects, "monstrosities of wasteful spending”, adding that they “erode the credibility Republicans once enjoyed as the spokesmen of fiscal conservatism"...

Four measures approved this year, including the energy and highway bills, will add nearly $33bn to the deficit or 10 per cent of the expected deficit for the current fiscal year, according to the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
The San Jose Mercury News agrees that this is not energy "policy," pointing out that fuel-economy standards are conspicuous in their absence:
[America] needs a policy that focuses on reducing the environmental damage from energy use, especially smog and global warming. It needs a policy that reduces the nation's dependence on foreign oil, particularly from the politically volatile Middle East.

One stone for both those birds is higher fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks, forcing them to use less gas and emit less exhaust. Since 1989, the average mileage for new cars has dropped from 22.1 miles per gallon to 20.8.

But between Big Oil Republicans and Big Auto Democrats, higher fuel-economy standards were always a non-starter...

The real puzzler -- in terms of policy, not politics -- is the $2.6 billion in subsidies for oil and gas companies. Even President Bush said in April: "I tell you, with $55 oil we don't need incentives to oil and gas companies to explore."

A guest column from the former New Hampshire GOP platform committee chairman in the Union Leader expresses concern that the US is falling behind, technologically:
Other advanced, industrial nations have heeded the unambiguous economic and environmental warnings. Europe and Japan are leaving the U.S. behind in development of the clean, abundant energy technologies of the future — and freeing their economies from Middle East oil dependence. Today's Congress would have cozied up to the hand calculator, patent medicine and telegraph industries and stymied computers, biotechnology and the Internet.
And Grist Magazine examines the types of tax breaks available to oil companies:
Oil and gas companies do benefit from a lower corporate income tax, and they'll reap billions in tax breaks thanks to the recently passed energy bill, but Big Oil is not alone. According to a 2004 report [PDF] from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, bigger breaks from 2001 to 2003 went to the aerospace, transportation, industrial and farm equipment, telecommunications, and electronics industries. Here's some context: on a scale of corporate tax rates from 0 to 29 percent, aerospace paid a measly 1.6 percent; oil weighed in at 13.3; and -- oh, just to randomly pick one -- publishing was taxed at 23 percent.
For more information on energy subsidies, check out Earth Track.
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