Montana Politics

The E-Brief, Running on Pure Fecal Energy

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Back a few years ago, the high debate topic was renewable energy, and high school teams were scrambling to find innovative plans to bring affordable, renewable energy to the U.S. I think the team I was coaching was using sensible solar-powered satellites beaming power to the planet, but one team topped us. They were using power generated from solid human and animal waste.

I’m guessing the editor of the MT GOP E-Brief judged that team, and was impressed with the idea, because he certainly was using a fair share of that power source in the latest release of Montana’s funniest e-mail. Defending Senator Burns energy record, the e-brief makes this claim:

But Senator Burns Voted In Favor Of A Higher Renewable Standard of 7.5 Billion gallons. (H.R. 6, 7/29/2005, #213).

What, you ask, was H.R. 6? It’s the Energy Policy Act of 2005. What did it to? According to the Washington Post:

"Every industry gets their own little program," said Myron Ebell of the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute. "There’s pork in there for everybody." The bill 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.

"This bill will allow America’s most profitable companies to pollute our water supplies," said David Alberswerth of the Wilderness Society. "They’re the kings of Capitol Hill." House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) also managed to insert at least $500 million in subsidies over a 10-year period — with the option to double the amount — for research into deep-water oil and gas drilling, a grant that many lawmakers expect to go to the Texas Energy Center in DeLay’s home town of Sugar Land. The bill also includes royalty relief for deep-water drilling projects, a strategy that helped jump-start production in the Gulf during the 1990s.

But, you know the Washington Post, bunch of hippy liberals. What did the National Republicans for Environmental protection think?

“It really gives a short shrift to conservation, and it still continues to subsidize the well-established oil and gas industries that really don’t need subsidizing especially when (crude) oil is $60 a barrel,” she said.

Public Citizen, relying on a concept that the MT GOP is unfamiliar with, called research, calls the bill bad policy because:

(1) fails to decrease our dependence on foreign oil for its lack of mandatory improvements in automobile fuel efficiency ("CAFE" standards); (2) provides billions of dollars in unjustified subsidies to the fossil fuel and nuclear energy industries; and (3) repeals the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA), an essential consumer protection that ensures that electric utilities exist to serve the people, not the profit interests of large corporations.

It seems that Senator Burns is having a real dilemma in this campaign. He seems so ashamed of his real record that he feels the need to manufacture one. This latest identity, as a defender of the environment, shares one thing with the Republicans’ energy policy and that old high school plan: they all rely on a lot of bullshit.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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