It isn't often that the entire political class in Washington disregards the interests of the American people, but the $100 billion pork barrel package in Congress that masquerades as an energy bill does just that. It not only fails to cut the country's dependence on Middle East oil but also weighs heavily on the budget deficit. In this proposed legislation, there are no Republicans or Democrats putting forth programs based on principle -- just politicians feeding at the trough. Let's follow the money.
The bill gives huge tax breaks to oil, gas, and coal drillers to produce more energy, but there are few incentives for Detroit to build more fuel-efficient cars. Even China is proposing higher mileage standards than the U.S. for its vehicles. Without strong conservation measures, the U.S. will never wean itself off foreign oil.
The bill mandates a doubling of the amount of ethanol in gasoline that needlessly adds some $9 billion to gas prices over the next five years. Score one for the Midwest corn growers -- and for Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM), which makes ethanol. They can thank Senator Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) for the largesse.
Taxpayers are also subsidizing a big gas pipeline in Alaska to the tune of $18 billion, even though prices are high enough for private companies to build it. And somehow, Representative W.U. "Billy" Tauzin of Louisiana, the Republican head of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, slipped in a subsidy for a Hooters restaurant -- Shreveport's first.
Remember the August blackout? The bill fails to reform the national power grid. It does give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission more authority to site power lines and write new reliability standards. But it doesn't make the standards mandatory, and it doesn't give FERC the authority to really change the grid.
The energy bill offers politicians a package of taxpayer-funded goodies to give to campaign contributors and constituents before next year's elections. The entire Establishment in Washington ought to be ashamed of itself -- from the White House to Congress.