operation black skies

Before the war in Iraq, before the collapse of Enron, and even before the events of 9-11, Vice President Cheney was hard at work re-crafting the energy policy of the United States with the likes of his friend Ken Lay. The group, composed of a number of energy industry executives, called themselves the Energy Task Force and they met behind closed doors. The Vice President, as you may be aware, has been reluctant to name who was involved or what was discussed during these sessions. (One thing that is now known, however, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, is that maps detailing Iraqi oil production facilities were gone over during at least one of those meetings.) Well, right now, our representatives in Washington are getting ready to vote a new $30 billion energy bill into law and its painfully obvious that it reflects fairly single-mindedly the interests of corporate America as represented by the men in those closed-door sessions. The bill not only offers very little in the way of encouraging conservation, it actually rolls back existing environmental protections. It essentially reads like a corporate wish list.

Here are two quotes from todays New York Times on the bill:

A House-Senate conference committee approved the more than $30 billion bill after Republicans defeated a series of Democratic efforts to win changes, including two different tries at blocking a plan to provide oil companies and refineries legal immunity from pollution lawsuits over a gasoline additive. Democrats also lost a bid to remove a provision that would allow some cities to escape enforcement of federal air pollution rules temporarily.

Senate members of the conference committee initially agreed to some changes to the measure, including a requirement that utilities use more renewable fuels. But those revisions and a handful of others were later rejected by House negotiators.

It pisses me off. Actually, it pissed me off so much that I just wrote letters to my representatives in DC asking that they not vote for the bill. Here we have a chance, with this new bill, to move in a new direction, one which could lessen our dependence on foreign oil and pollution, and instead we give in to corporate America and further entrench ourselves in oil, gas and coal.

If youre interested in writing to your reps, you might find it helpful to start with a template like the one you can find linked from this page.

And, if you werent discouraged and depressed enough by now, heres a story about China that really drives the fact home. China, it would seem, is more responsible than the US with regard to fuel efficiency. Heres a quote:

The Chinese initiative comes at a time when (the US) Congress is close to completing work on a major energy bill that would make no significant changes in America’s fuel economy rules for vehicles. The Chinese standards, in general, call for new cars, vans and sport utility vehicles to get as much as two miles a gallon of fuel more in 2005 than the average required in the United States, and about five miles more in 2008.

When China, a country with pollution-filled lakes that are known to catch on fire, is surpassing us with regard to environmental policy, its time to start asking some serious questions. So, stop reading fucking blogs and send a letter to your Senators and Congressperson.

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