The facts on the House GOP’s energy plan

While I’m a strong proponent of individual and community action, I also realize the importance of new national energy policy.  That is why I’ve been writing and thinking quite a bit about Waxman-Markey lately.  It’s gone farther in Congress than any similar legislation, despite the GOP’s objections.

Whenever I see a Republican congressman criticizing Waxman-Markey, I want to say, “Okay, so you don’t like the idea of a carbon cap.  Fair enough, but where is your plan to confront climate change?”  Well, here it is: the American Energy Act.

The Facts

The House Republicans’ energy plan, called an “All-of-the-Above Solution for Energy Independence” is based on the following:

  • More offshore drilling
  • More oil refineries
  • More nuclear power plants
  • More production of oil shale
  • More drilling in arctic

To be fair, the plan does include funding for renewable energy, via an Alternative Energy Trust Fund, which would, according to the two-page summary, “encourage the development of renewable, alternative and unconventional fuels, and new energy sources, using receipts from the new federal and oil gas [sic] leasing in the Arctic Coastal Plain and Outer Continental Shelf [emphasis mine].”  It should also be noted that oil shale, tar sands, and coal are included under “renewable and unconventional energy sources.”

At this point, it looks unsettlingly similar to the Bush energy policy.

The plan also includes tax incentives for energy efficiency, as well as prizes for 100-MPG cars and other new technologies.  But, notably absent is any goal for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.  In fact, these are the only references to greenhouse gases in the full text:

Section 302(g) of the Clean Air

Act (42 U.S.C. 7602(g)) is amended by adding the following at the end thereof: ‘‘The term ‘air pollutant’ shall not include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, or sulfur hexafluoride.’’….

…. Nothing in the Clean Air Act shall be treated as authorizing or requiring the regulation of climate change or global warming….

….The impact of greenhouse gas on any species of fish or wildlife or plant shall not be considered for any purpose in the implementation of this [Endangered Species] Act.

*face-palm*  And that isn’t all.  The “Legal Reform” section openly intends to make it more difficult for environmental groups to challenge drilling leases in the Outer Continental Shelf, because

Congress finds that expedited judicial review is necessary to prevent this gross abuse of the United States judicial system.

My Opinion

While there are some provisions for responsible Arctic drilling, the plan as a whole isn’t environmentally sound.  The weight of dirty fuel funding is enough to sink the bill, even without the outspoken attempts to fight GHG reduction.  The efficiency incentives are fine, but fuel efficiency is not enough.  What we need is a bold and comprehensive plan to switch to true clean energy and cut emissions.  I can somewhat understand the Republicans’ concerns about a cap-and-trade, but so far, they haven’t come up with a suitable alternative.


2 thoughts on “The facts on the House GOP’s energy plan

    • Yeah, I’m pretty sure this plan will only serve to illustrate their talking points. But I’m worried that the Democrats’ climate change bill will be weakened before it passes.

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