Buffalo BEAST - Buffalo's New Best Fiend

Oct 5 - Oct 19, 2005
Issue #85

  ..Buffalo's Best Fiend
Bursting the Bennett Bubble
Count me out on this one
Allan Uthman

Post-Katrina, Pre-kaboom?
The Nukes are Loose
Russ Wellen

Tenet & the Bare Necessities
Touch the CIA Director
A Monkey
Fristing America
In Search of the Senator's Rolex
Ian Murphy
Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Gasoline
Kit Smith
Bush Declares War on Hurricanes
"It's time to fight back"
Luke Allein
Ask a Janjaweed Militiaman
Genocidal social advice
How to Wipe Your Ass With Buffalo Current
New paper finds its niche

Visitor's Gude to  Buffalo--Cheektowaga
Tom Maccio

Buffalo in Briefs
Wide Right
Bills Football
Ronnie Roscoe
Kino Korner: Movies
Michael Gildea
Page 3
Separated at Birth?
[sic] - Letters
 Cover Page

Idiot Box
Perry Bible Fellowship
Bob the Angry Flower

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Last Issue: (84)

Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Gasoline
Kit Smith

Last Wednesday, September 28th, the House approved two bills, the “Gasoline for America’s Security Act of 2005” and the “National Energy Supply Diversification and Disruption Prevention Act.” Ostensibly, these gallantly titled pieces of legislation address the gasoline supply problem left in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In fact, the sponsors of these acts are using the hurricanes as an excuse to further subsidize oil and gas companies at the expense of the environment and the American tax payers.

The report of the Gasoline for America bill starts out quite reasonably. The main impetuses are stated plainly, and are hard to argue:

It serves the national interest to increase refining capacity... in the United States, to bring more reliable and economic supply (of gas) to the American people.

Huzzah! We would all benefit from cheaper gas. When gas costs more, everything costs more, because everything needs to be shipped. No dispute there. Also, cheaper oil means fewer old people will freeze to death in their own homes. Frozen old people are bad PR.

A growing reliance on foreign sources of refined petroleum products impairs our national security interests and global competitiveness.

Here, here! If we didn’t need foreign oil so badly maybe we wouldn’t be in Iraq. Maybe. Just a thought. Anyway, it’s generally positive for a country to be as self-sufficient as possible. Currently, the U.S. is the energy equivalent of a 35-year-old living in his parent’s basement and watching original Star Trek reruns.

Refiners are subject to significant environmental regulations and face several new Clean Air Act requirements over the next decade.... These new requirements increase business uncertainty and dissuade investment in new refinery capacity.

Uh… you lost me. For one thing, this is an opinion stated as fact. Okay, the other two statements were also opinions, but I agree with them. Or do I? Come to think of it, maybe it serves the national interest better to move away from oil as an energy source. Maybe six-dollar a gallon gasoline will make people rethink the “evils” of conservation. Maybe it serves the national interest for oil companies not to post new record profits every single quarter, especially in the face of the nation’s worst crisis in history.

The Republicans don’t see it that way. Both of these bills provide not only incentives – for example loosening federal rules that limit pollution when refineries (or coal-fired power plants) are expanded – but include demands that will push these efforts forward. One point in case; within 90 days of the passing of this act, the President is required to provide a list of sites on Federal lands appropriate for locating a refinery. (ANWR baby, just lie back and think of England.)

Of course if the goal truly was to protect American oil supplies, then it might make sense to take such an aggressive approach. Protect the supply chain and all that. All of this might seem less disingenuous were it not being spearheaded by Texas oilman – I mean Republican, Joe Barton, and California Republican Richard Pombo.

Joe Barton, Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is a Republican from Texas. Need more be said? In case any optimists are reading this, please allow me to disabuse you. The oil and gas industries have given Barton nearly a quarter of a million dollars in campaign financing. Other industries which will benefit from a rollback of Clean Air Act deadlines have contributed a reported $700,000. He has been called Delay’s right hand man, along with other things like “whore” and “asshole.”

Pombo has been named a close associate of DeLay. As Chair of the House Resources Committee, Pombo has for years been seeking major revisions to numerous environmental regulations, especially the Endangered Species Act. He represents an area of California that could benefit from development, much of which has been impeded by those damn rare animals. Can’t they just fuck faster?

Pombo’s reworking of the Endangered Species Act, ironically titled the “Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act,” has been denounced by Democrats and a number of commercial and sport fishing groups, as well as the predictable and therefore discountable environmentalists.

Granted, the Endangered Species Act can use some revision. The old “shoot, shovel and shut up” adage came in response to the law’s inflexibility toward landowners, and compensating them when land can’t be developed is an idea with merit. But revisions should be approached with reason and integrity; we can’t let the cannibals decide what to do with the hostage.

This new bill smacks of the same deregulation to serve special-interest groups, only dressed up in a suit of good will for the American public. The proposals put forth by the two House committees, working into the night to protect Americans from the perils of expensive foreign oil, actually appeared in the original drafts of the energy bill passed over the summer. Congress excluded them, deeming them too extreme for their already controversial bill. This fact is as damning as the Downing Street memo, and will probably get the same response: a nationwide yawn.

Perhaps we’ve all forgotten that at the beginning of the summer, news outlets were predicting that gasoline would reach three dollars a gallon and never come down. This was well before Katrina was even a glimmer in Mother Nature’s eye. Just as Iraq was a war waiting for a reason, this gutting of environmental regulation was planned well in advance. The hurricanes have merely provided a convenient scapegoat. I guess we should be glad; otherwise they might have had to hire some hairy olive-skinned guy to blow up a refinery in the name of Allah.

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