NewEnergyNews: SENATORS FOR 36% OF PEOPLE MAY BLOCK NEW ENERGY FOR ALL

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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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    Thursday, February 28, 2008

    SENATORS FOR 36% OF PEOPLE MAY BLOCK NEW ENERGY FOR ALL

    Senators representing only 36.5% of the U.S. population, as calculated by NewEnergyNews, are expected to block vital energy legislation approved February 27 in the House of Representatives by a 236 to 182 majority.

    Using record oil prices and oil company profits and soaring gas pump prices to justify revisiting this energy package, House leaders passed legislation funding $8+ billion in New Energy incentives by shifting subsidies and tax breaks the NY Times called “…wholly unnecessary…” away from the oil and gas industry.

    The Senate is expected to reject this vital energy legislation. Similar legislation was passed by the House of Representatives in 2007 but stopped in the Senate. The Senate again rejected the New Energy incentives package when Senate leaders attempted to include it in the recently passed economic stimulus package. Both times the New Energy incentives were blocked by the Senate only because the arcane filibuster rule allows 41 Senators to prevent legislation.

    Using
    a map produced by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and July 2007 population statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, NewEnergyNews calculates that Senators representing a mere 36.5% of the U.S. population will stand in the way of legislation that would incentivize the ongoing construction of a New Energy infrastructure for the entire U.S.

    With vital tax credit extensions blocked by this small minority in the Senate, the wind, solar and ocean energies industries as well as energy efficiency and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle industries may be left to flounder.

    NewEnergyNews’ calculations used the AWEA map to determine that both Senators from the following states voted against the New Energy incentives in the economic stimulus package and may be expected to do so again: Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, New Hampshire. The total population of these states is 75,200,604 people.

    One of the two Senators from the following states voted against that package: Nevada (shifted from the 2-Senators to the 1-Senator category because Senator Reid’s “no” vote was for parliamentary reasons), Colorado, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia. Half of the populations of these states represents 36,502,940 people.

    The “no” voters represented 111,703,544 of a total U.S. population of 305,986,357. Thus, the Senators who voted “no” on the New Energy incentives (and may be expected to do so again) represent only 36.5% of the total U.S. population.


    Calculations began with this map. Red=2 Senators voted against New Energy incentives; Gray=1 Senator voted against; Green=2 Senators voted for. The "no" vote represented only 36.5% of the U.S. population. (click to enlarge)

    One facet of oil and gas industry strategy to oppose the bill is to raise the question of energy security. American Petroleum Institute: "New taxes ... will even further reduce our energy security by discouraging new domestic oil and natural gas production and refinery capacity expansions…"

    How incentivizing domestic energy production makes the U.S. less secure is a mystery. At the rate the oil companies are selling petroleum, they would be foolish not to expand their production and refinery capacity - unless there is something wrong with their business model that requires them to depend on government subsidies long after they have becme immensely profitable.

    Letter from 100+ businesses, utilities, environmental groups and efficiency advocates: "These incentives must be extended immediately to avoid significant harm to the development of clean energy industries in the United States…"


    House OKs New Taxes on Big Oil Companies
    H. Josef Hebert, February 27, 2008 (AP)

    WHO
    The U.S. House of Representatives, 236 voting in the affirmative and 182 voting in the negative.

    WHAT
    The House passed H.R. 5351, approving a package of incentives and tax credit extensions for New Energies, for energy efficiency measures, for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and for expansion of biofuels in fueling stations.

    click to enlarge

    WHEN
    The bill was passed February 27.

    WHERE
    - The bill now goes to the Senate where it is expected to be rejected although Congressional leaders and New Energy advocates hold out some hope that public outrage over record high oil prices and profits and soaring gas pump prices might motivate recalcitrant Senators in the sway of the oil and gas industry to shift away from the dark side.
    - White House spokespersons have indicated the President will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

    WHY
    - The bill would impose $17.65 billion in new taxes over 10 years on oil companies that reportedly earned $123 billion in profits in 2007.
    - Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) said that gas pump prices are up 75 cents/gallon and ExxonMobil Corp. reported a record $40.6 billion in profits for 2007 since the Senate rejected the 2007 House energy package.
    - The bill withdraws 2005 tax breaks on domestic oil and gas production and limits tax breaks allowed for foreign oil and gas production.

    Population distribution is uneven but every state gets 2 Senators. It was designed to make change difficult. It is. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Rep Jim McDermott (D-Wash.): "…stop the madness of subsidizing oil companies…" when the industry earned $123 billion last year.
    - Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.): "Gas prices have been soaring…[people are] struggling to pay energy costs that have skyrocketed in a harsh winter."
    - Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas): "This bill singles out one industry…"
    - The White House: "[The bill’s provisions] would reduce the nation's energy security rather than improve it [and] lead to higher energy costs to U.S. consumers and business."

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