Apr 24, 2006
The Best Legislation Money Could Buy
Apr 24, 2006
The Best Legislation Money Could Buy
Oil and Gas Executives got $8 Billion in Giveaways and Tax Breaks From the Special Interest Energy Bill in Addition to Their Sky-High Profits and All They had to do was Pad the Campaign Coffers of Republican Leaders
USA Today - House Softens Lobbying Measure: House Republican leaders have quietly scaled back their plan to limit the political influence of lobbyists, dropping proposed requirements that lobbyists disclose which lawmakers and aides they have contacted and how they have raised money for politicians. [USA Today, 4/24/06]
Contributions From Big Energy:
- $220 million Energy industry money accepted by the Republican Party since 1994. [www.opensecrets.org]
$1,040,370 Oil and gas money accepted by Joe Barton, the author of the Energy Bill
$365,238 Oil and gas money accepted by Dennis Hastert, Republican Speaker of the House
$2,627,825 Oil and gas money accepted by George W. Bush during the 2004 election cycle alone
When George Bush Took Office: $1.52
Last Month: $2.50
Last Year: $2.22
Last Summer: $3.06
This Summer: $?
[Sources: AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, Runzheimer International]
(Washington, D.C.) With the news today that the Republican leadership is planning on weakening lobbying restrictions, it is more apparent than ever that the special interests hold massive sway over Congress. Even after the lobbying scandals of convicted felon and former Republican super-lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, Republicans in Congress still want lobbyists to have the run of the place. Last summer, lobbyists for the oil and gas industry pushed for the special interest legislation that eventually turned into the energy bill. The bill, which was signed and touted by the Bush administration and spearheaded in Congress by Joe Barton, Dennis Hastert and the Republican leadership, does nothing to stop the soaring cost of gas, nothing to prevent gas stations from gouging consumers but does send $8 billion to the oil and gas industry in the form of giveaways and tax breaks.
Today, gas prices are still on the rise, and the energy legislation passed by George Bush and the Republican Congress last year is seemingly more ineffective than ever. Last summer, gas prices hit a peak of $3.06 per gallon and today the high costs are back and rising fast. At $2.91 for a gallon of gas nearly double what it was when George Bush took office families who have to drive their kids to school and then drive to work are having a tougher time than ever.
For oil and gas industry lobbyists, this Republican energy bill was the best legislation their campaign contributions could buy. As Americans spend more than ever to buy gas, the oil executives who padded the campaign coffers of George Bush and the Republican Congress are making more money than ever, said Bill Burton, communications director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In addition to their already astronomical profit margin, oil executives saw an $8 billion return on their campaign donations in the form of this energy bill. The special interests hold massive sway over the Republican Congress and painful price at the pump will be one of the many reasons why American voters will go to the ballot box looking for change this November.
The Republican Congress Passed Energy Bill that Gave Billions to Oil, Gas and Nuclear Industries. This bill did nothing to lower gas prices. The vote was for the energy conference report that exempts oil and gas industries from some clean-water laws, streamlines permits for oil wells and power lines on public lands, and helps the hydropower industry appeal environmental restrictions. One obscure provision would repeal a Depression-era law that has prevented consolidation of public utilities, potentially transforming the nation's electricity markets. It also includes an estimated $85 billion worth of subsidies and tax breaks for most forms of energy -- including oil and gas, "clean coal," ethanol, electricity, and solar and wind power. [Washington Post, 7/30/05; HR 6 7/28/2005 Vote# 445]
The Republican Congress Voted Against Alternative Energy Plan That Would Give Consumers Immediate Relief At The Gas Pump. The vote was against an alternative energy plan that would bring immediate relief to consumers at the pump, increase the nation's investment into renewable fuels and energy efficiency and crack down on price gouging. It also directed the Federal Trade Commission and Attorney General to exercise vigorous oversight over the oil markets to protect the American people from price gouging and unfair practices at the gasoline pump. Furthermore, the alternative would extend for five years the tax credit that provides incentives for investments in solar, wind, geothermal and biomass technologies and provide several tax incentives for energy efficiency. Finally, the measure would prohibit federal or state permits or leases for new oil or gas drilling in or under the Great Lakes. [HR 6 4/20/2005]
The Republican Congress Voted Against Cracking Down On Price Gouging. The vote was against a proposal to make it illegal during an energy crisis to sell crude oil, gasoline or petroleum at unconscionable levels. The legislation would also provide the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with new authority to investigate and prosecute those that engage in this "predatory pricing", from oil companies on down to local gas stations, with an emphasis on those who profit most. This includes the gouging of gasoline, home heating oil, propane or natural gas. Some fines collected from such offences will go towards the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) which aids consumers in paying their heating bills. [Rep Stupak Press Release, 9/28/05; HR 3402 9/28/2005 Vote# 500]
The Republican Congress Opposed Cracking Down on Price Gouging & Lowering Gas Prices. The vote was against a measure to provide the Federal Trade Commission with new authority to investigate and prosecute those that engage in predatory pricing, from oil companies on down to gas stations, with the emphasis on those who profit the most. This includes price gouging of gasoline and natural gas, home heating oil and propane. The measure increased funding for the low-income home energy assistance program through fines from price-gouging companies and created a strategic refinery reserve with capacity equal to 5 percent of the total United States demand for gasoline, home heating oil and other refined petroleum products. [Reps. Stupak & Boucher, Remarks, Congressional Record, pg H8780, 10/7/05; HR 3893 10/7/2005 Vote# 517]