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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How Does an American Power Act?

Well, before one can answer that, one must first determine which American power we're talking about: The political establishment or Big Business. And we've gotten several indications during countless congressional testimonies and lax to nonexistent oversight during the past generation to know where the real power lies.

The graph above was created by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a right wing think tank named after its principle money man, infamous right winger Pete Peterson. In a nutshell, it predicts the impact the American Power Act will have on US energy usage in the decades to come. You'll note that this energy industry-friendly legislation cooked up by Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman and John Kerry has little impact on reducing coal and oil consumption and has virtually zero impact on renewal energy sources such as wind and solar power.

Any supposedly progressive legislation that has the support of an energy CEO like Duke's Jim Rogers should make any true statesman shriek and run from it as if it was radioactive.

Fortunately for the energy industry, there are virtually no politicians who are handicapped and hobbled by such scruples. Same thing goes for the bureaucrats who run the Obama-era Interior Ministry and EPA. In fact, a former EPA investigator just confided that BP, currently the world's biggest polluter, won't be disciplined for spilling nearly 20 million gallons of crude (and counting) into the Gulf Coast and we can be assured such generous impunity will also be extended to Halliburton and Transocean, the rig's owner.

Of course, that's because the government can't afford the luxury of righteousness.

It's one thing to give these world-class polluters endless dispensations and exemptions. It's another thing entirely for our government to actually lie to the American people and to act as paid shills or mouthpieces in a laughable attempt at perception management. In fact, BP is actively forbidding scientists with more sophisticated instruments to investigate the extent of the spill and the government isn't exactly militant about letting them in. Plus, Jason Leopold of Truthout reminded us recently about the Bush-era DOJ actively scuttling an investigation that allowed BP to in turn scuttle away after paying the government a $20 million fine for a crime occurring in Alaska's Northern Slope that was downgraded to a misdemeanor.

What we're seeing is bitch-slapped, hat-in-hand compliance from two successive administrations, one very Republican and the other technically Democratic. And just as most of the Deepwater Horizon's oil spill is still underwater and not even visible to NASA satellites, this endless compliance toward the energy industry is just the tip of the iceberg.

Despite lying to the American people just 22 days before the Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 workers, in which he said,
So today we’re announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration, but in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect America’s natural resources

President Obama then did what President Obama does and publicly clucked his tongue at BP in a faux populist vein. However, even that risible righteousness in turn earned a cluck of the tongue from Tea Party Flavor the Day Rand Paul, who said that Obama criticizing BP, a British oil company, was "unAmerican."

It is now unAmerican to criticize a huge corporation, even one headquartered in Europe, something that Teddy Roosevelt, a true progressive Republican, was doing a century ago. And what's being criticized as unAmerican, this token righteousness, is further made even more ludicrous by the realization that since the spill, Obama's Interior Dept. has issued 27 more drilling leases that we know of to other oil companies, including two to BP.

When one carefully parses the American Power Act, the new health care bill and the much-ballyhooed financial regulatory bill, we see an unmistakable pattern: A Congress that's being used as contractors and subcontractors whose job is to allow huge corporations to continue to self-regulate and self-deal. Look at the bankruptcy bill of 2005, one that was actually written by the nation's biggest lenders around 1997.

Then think of what Sen. Dick Durbin blurted out in a fit of frustration at having his homeowner relief bill blocked by Republicans and the usual swarm of lobbyists: "And the banks -- hard to believe in a time when we're facing a banking crisis that many of the banks created -- are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place."

Truer words were never spoken on Capitol Hill.

And if the BP rig disaster doesn't show the endless compliance and forever put to rest the illusion that Congress and the administration will ever enact real reform and regulation over these world-eating corporations, nothing ever will. And the tragedy is that it doesn't even matter which party is in power. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss and they both smell like sweet light crude.

They have the money and the lobbyists and we don't. On Capitol Hill, money doesn't just talk: It screams with thousands of megaphones, drowning out the voices of even hundreds of millions of people. They'd drunk our milkshake long ago and there's only that irritating hollow sucking sound.
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Blogger Jayhawk said...
Well, there is something very fishy about that chart. It says that under "business as usual," without passage of the act, total energy consumption between 2008 and 2030 will only go from 100.5 to 110.8, which is an increase of 10% or close to that. I find that very hard to believe.

The current rate of population growth in the US is 0.915% per year. I don't feel like doing the calculation for precision, but in a 22-year period that means well over a 20% increase in population.

With no enforcement of conservation we will increase consumption in a 22-year period, counting population growth of better than 20%, of no more than 10%. I would really like to see the basis for that calculation, because it seems entirely unlikely to me.