The 2010 Gulf Oil Spill

NRDC says to Speaker Boehner's energy plan, don't drill and drive

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According to the NRDC, House Speaker Boehner wants to steer America onto a disastrous transportation policy path, that makes America's energy security and environmental problems worse, is financially dangerous, and leaves the nation's highway system subject to political manipulation akin to taking a road to nowhere.

On Feb 2 the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will consider a reauthorization of federal surface transportation programs under a proposal from Speaker Boehner he calls the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act. The NRDC describes Boehner's plan as an attempt to hijack what's normally a bi-partisan process in order to further the interests of the oil companies.

Writing on the NRDC Switchboard blog yesterday, Rob Perk describes the Federal surface transportation law as a long-time non-controversial, non-partisan process. The surface transportation law is what organizes the billions of dollars that go into building and repairing roads and bridges around the country. Congress routinely passes extensions to the surface transportation law with broad bi-partisan support, but this year is different. In the Senate the Environment and Public Works Committee recently unanimously passed out of committee a transportation bill, but in the House the process has been hijacked by Boehner's American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act.

That act, unveiled last November by Speaker Boehner, aims to, as Boehner's website says, "create millions of new American jobs by eliminating some of the unnecessary government barriers that prevent our country from utilizing its vast energy resources". The plan does this by lifting "President Obama’s drilling ban on new offshore areas by requiring the administration to lease offshore areas estimated to contain the most oil and natural gas resources," and "set clear rules for the development of U.S. oil shale resources and promote shale technology research and development," and finally "open less than three percent of ANWR’s 19 million acres in the North Slope, ... , for oil and natural gas development." The new revenue coming from new oil and gas exploitation would be used to fund spending on highway repair and construction.

In short, Speaker Boehner wants to slash away more of the environmental protections, keep America on the path of using dirty fuels with their negative environmental impact, and keep America on the path of ignoring the threat of peak oil looming ahead of us. This sort of plan puts Speaker Boehner in the "Drill Baby Drill" camp that says the path to national energy security is to drill more oil wells, no matter the consequences.

In a blog post by Marc Scribner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) it's pointed out that Boehner's plan breaks a long-standing "user pays" system where transportation system funding comes from user fees, such as the gasoline tax. Speaker Boehner wants to change that to a different funding source that "will almost certainly increase political manipulation of transportation investments in the future, thereby increasing waste, fraud and abuse". Scribner went on to say “Congress is well known for going down roads to nowhere."


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Personally, I think we ought to be drilling to increase our domestic supply now (while still considering environmental issues), and also working to get off of fossil fuels. I think the only viable option for the scale we need is nuclear power, and as it takes a long time to build we need to be building them now.