Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: <i>Big Business wins again</i> .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Big Business wins again

House approves energy bill
Guzzle away — Uncle Sam's buying

The Republican majority in the legislative branch is beginning to pay off for major party contributors.

The House approved a broad energy bill today aimed at boosting domestic production, including provisions to allow oil drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge and to shield makers of a gasoline additive from water contamination lawsuits.

Although the bill does little to ease the high cost of fuel or our reliance on foreign oil, it's a big break for oil companies who want to turn one of our last remaining wildernesses into an oilfield, and eliminates the risk of lawsuits against MTBE manufacturers for polluting our water supplies.

It also includes $12 billion in tax breaks and subsidies for energy companies, and leaves communities with a potential $29 billion in cleanup costs due to the gasoline additive's contamination of water supplies in 29 states.

What the bill doesn't include are requirements for automobile manufacturers to improve fuel efficiency in their product, or elimination of tax breaks for business that use gas guzzling vehicles in the course of their business.

The MTBE provision has been a top priority of Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Rep. Joe Barton, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, who argue that Congress endorsed the widespread use of the additive when it required gasoline contain an oxygenate to help clean up the air.

Both are from Texas where major MTBE manufacturers are located.

The energy bill would shield these companies from lawsuits claiming that MTBE is a defective product and that the companies knew all along it would cause water contamination problems. At least 80 lawsuits involving MTBE have been filed.

This is just the beginning, folks. Get used to the idea that the GOP will push it's agenda as far as it can until the taxpayers are finally fed up and revolt against the policies that benefit big business but cost states and communities big bucks to clean up their mess.

I only hope the public wakes up to the danger before there's irreversible "eco" damage - economical, ecological, and ecospiritual.


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