My Side

What do I, post-Thanksgiving, and the 1,200-page Energy Bill before Congress have in common?

Answer: We are both so bloated, we have had some trouble getting out the door. Looks like the crafters of the bill, Domenici and Tauzin, are holding on to the door frame, putting both feet behind the bill and giving it a great big shove to get it out before the public notices.

Responsible, sensible people cut back for a while, but not Congress. The Energy Bill gives billions to the oil, gas and coal industry ” big supporters of the Bush-Cheney administration. Lawmakers want to fill the pork barrels, grease the permitting process and drill our way into energy independence. But this assumption ignores reality, domestic supplies of these fuels will not meet America’s long-term energy needs. Gas prices are not going to drop with this energy bill.

In Colorado, consumer gas rates are spurting up by 70 percent, while the major gas companies are experiencing record profits! The industry shows no signs of slowing down either. By the end of this year, Colorado will have approved 2,200 new wells, and much of that gas is being shipped out of state. How is drilling more going to help consumers?

Like my pre-holiday body, the platforms our good senators drafting the bill got elected on have disappeared. What happened to all those skinny ideals ” limited government, fiscal responsibility, local control and the protection of property rights?

All of those promises are being broken now. The Energy Bill would:

1. allow the federal government to take private property to string electric transmission lines.

2. prohibit drilling fluids from being considered drinking water pollutants ” even when they contain diesel fuels and other potentially harmful chemicals.

3. force taxpayers to shoulder the burden of billions in tax breaks and subsidies to the oil and gas industry ” already the richest in the world.

4. repeal a key consumer protection law for electricity customers and open the door for more Enron type abuses and California electricity disasters.

5. cut impacted landowners and residents out of the permitting process.

Slashing the environmental review process and opening access to public lands, like the Roan Plateau in Garfield County, to drilling increases supplies by less than 1 percent, provides no immediate price relief and saves the average American household a whopping $5 a year by 2020, according to a resource economist. All this for what?

Corporate lobbyists wrote this bill behind closed doors. After months of closed-door negotiations, Democrats finally got a copy of the Energy Bill days before they were expected to vote on it. Do we really want Congress to make a decision on a 1,200 page document that has serious impacts for many Coloradans in a couple of days? When there isn’t any attempt at compromise, years of contentious litigation are ensured.

Americans will be more secure and prosperous when we use our ingenuity to develop renewable energy, ensure oil and gas production is done right and work to wean ourselves from a dependency on fossil fuels. Please call Senators Allard and Campbell and tell them to end the bloating and vote “no” on this shortsighted, pork-barrel energy bill.

” Andrea Robinsong of Hotchkiss is the vice president of Western Colorado Congress, a nonprofit grassroots alliance dedicated to protecting Western Slope communities and environment.

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