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Archive for May 25th, 2009

US_House_CommitteeLast week we saw the Waxman Markey bill go to the Energy and Commerce committee. Watching the markup process increased my interest in the role special interest money plays in the political process.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is responsible for oversight in legislation concerning: telecommunications, energy, international commerce, public health, consumer protection and much more. The Energy Department, Health and Human Services, the Transportation Department to the Federal Trade Commission, Food and Drug Administration, and Federal Communications Commission all fall under this committee’s jurisdiction.

Being that this is the committee that was given the responsibility of approving the Waxman Markey bill (the legislation that will determine our future energy policy); I was particularly interested in the amount of influence the energy industry had on shaping these positions of its members. The only way I could actually come close to measuring this is by looking at how much energy companies contribute to these candidates and how much their votes reflect the contributions they receive. As a control for this highly informal quasi-experiment I compared the contributions Energy and Commerce Committee members received from the energy industry the amount of contributions members of the Ways and Means Committee (which deals with taxation and welfare) received from the same industries. I limited this to congressmen who received $10,000 or more in contributions from energy companies during the 2008 election cycle.

I found that in the 65.52% of energy and commerce committee members received energy contributions above $10,000, while 58.53% of Ways and Means members received contributions above $10,000, during the 2008 campaign season. On average Energy and Commerce members received $53,972, while Ways and Means members only received $35,986, on average. The biggest recipients of both parties on the Energy and Commerce Committee got substantially more than their counterparts on Ways and Means Committee. In fact the biggest recipient on Energy and Commerce got $267,559 more than the largest recipient in Ways and Means. The Democrats in both committees received fewer contributions from these industries than the republicans, but the biggest recipient among Energy and Commerce Democrats, Louisiana’s Charlie Melancon, received $40,176 more than Charles Rangel the biggest Democrat recipient on the Ways and Means committee. It should be noted that a bigger percentage of Republicans on both committees received contributions above $10,000 in Energy Contributions. 100% of Republicans on Energy and Commerce received $10,000 or more while only 44% of Democrats did. (more…)

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nuke plantA bill currently moving in the Texas Legislature, HB 4525, would create new state subsidy of $50 million each for new nuclear and coal plants.

We need your help to stop this pork bill from passing.  Call your Senator now and tell them that nuclear power doesn’t need taxpayer help!

Although the claim of HB 4525 is that subsidies are necessary to attract new manufacturing plants to Texas, the bill would actually primarily reward plants already intending to build here with a totally unjustified housewarming gift.

In particular, the two nuclear projects singled out by the Legislative Budget Board analysis as the most likely beneficiaries of these subsidies –the South Texas Project and Comanche Peak — are expansions of existing complexes.  We aren’t in danger of these facilities relocating to out of state, and giving them $50 million a pop “to stay” is an extravagant waste of taxpayer money.

At a time of economic crisis, when state tax revenues are plummeting, Texas cannot afford to give that kind of money away, especially to such financially and environmentally risky projects.

Nuclear plants are already the most heavily subsidized energy industry in the United States at both the state and federal level. Coal plants are heavily subsidized as well, and the Texas Legislature is currently considering two new subsidies for “clean coal” projects. Considering the likelihood that a cap-and-trade bill will take effect soon, this is the wrong time to be adding financial support to the quickly changing energy industry.

Call your Senator today, and tell them to STOP this new coal and nuclear subsidy by voting NO on HB 4525.

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government_uncle_sam_go_greenThe House has been moving very slowly in an effort to kill a Voter ID bill, but it appears the logjam has been broken. Now we have to pass our key solar and clean air bills before midnight Tuesday, May 26, which is the deadline for the House to pass any bills from the Senate.

We need YOU to pick up the phone and call your representative to say that you support solar energy and clean air.

Click here to find out who represents you, then call their office at the Capitol. Tell them:

I support SB 545, which would give homeowners incentives to put solar on their rooftops and create new green jobs.

I also support SB 541, which would support more large scale solar projects and repeat the success of our wind industry.

I also support SB 16, which would improve air quality through reducing auto emissions, better building codes, more energy efficiency, and plug-in hybrids. **If Texas does not adopt these 2009 IECC building codes, we could miss out on hundreds of millions in federal stimulus funds for weatherization.

Please support these bills in order to create tens of thousands of new green jobs in Texas and ensure a cleaner, cheaper, cooler energy future.

There are dozens of dirty energy lobbyists working to try to kill these bills as we speak. Will you stand up to them? Will you make your voice heard?

Call your Representative now!

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Check out the following letter to the editor from the Abilene Reporter News.  Turns out a local resident of Sweetwater recently had a revelation about the nature of coal and carbon sequestration.  Interesting theory…

Why are we digging up stuff God wants buried?

I believe that God has a purpose for coal, and it’s up to us to figure out what that purpose is. When I was posting to an Abilene Reporter-News thread on Monday, I believe he gave me the answer! God developed and implemented the Carbon Capture And Sequestration system on Earth! He captured the carbon dioxide, the mercury, the arsenic, the leadque and many of the other hazardous chemicals and bound them up in a matrix that we call coal! He bound up this matrix in such a way so that the materials he put into it would stay sequestered forever! He took that matrix and buried most of it, so it would be well below the life zone of Earth. Locked away forever.

He knew the planet would produce more carbon dioxide than the plants could ever recycle. He knew the mercury would contribute to autism in his children. He knew that arsenic caused death and that lead would cause nerve damage and learning disabilities. He knew if he buried it, it would make it more difficult for us to use it to screw up his creation! And here we are today, digging up what he has covered up, releasing the poisons he so lovingly protected us from, releasing them into death and destruction in his world! Releasing them into the life zones of his creation!

God invented the sequestration concept, why do we have to keep digging up his work and bringing the pollution back into our lives!

Jimmy Headstream

Sweetwater

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