Friday, June 20, 2008

Getting Tired of Ensign Feigning Interest

I'm really beginning to wonder if Senator Ensign can read, or if he just pays some service to blindly answer his email for him. You see, every time I take the time to write to him, all I get back is some canned response that doesn't come close to addressing the issues I raised in any letter I write.

I got Sen. Ensign's 'weekly update' on Friday (I haven't yet received my latest canned letters from my last foray of letter writing). Geez, why did he bother in last week's letter to ask us to write to him about what we thought about drilling in the ANWR? It's readily apparent that he'd already decided what's best for us ... more oil ... but home-drilled oil instead of middle eastern oil! Here's what he had to say:

Senate Needs to Act to Address Energy Concerns
The time has come for the Senate to stop dragging its feet and to seriously address our long-term energy concerns with more conservation, more renewables, and more American energy. Weighing heavily on the shoulders of Americans, gas prices and energy issues in our country need to get the attention they deserve from our Senate leaders. To address these issues, I am urging Congress to lift the ban on exploring for American energy in deep sea resources, oil shale, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). We need a comprehensive solution that makes America energy independent. The time to act is now; we can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines and hope these problems will fix themselves. Along with more conservation and renewables, we also need more domestic supply. Domestic resources can supply the United States with oil for five years with no foreign imports. It’s disappointing that American energy, including deep sea and Alaska resources, is available to break our addiction to Middle East oil and provide relief at the gas pump, but we’re not utilizing it. Our energy policy is key to our strategic national security, and failing to act now threatens the safety and well being of our children and grandchildren and keeps us clinging to the oil of hostile regimes.

Excuse me? He says, "We need a comprehensive solution that makes America energy independent." But all he's really saying is 'gee, let's give Big Oil the opportunity to drill everywhere we can ... ANWR, Gulf Coast, East Coast, West Coast, the Rockies ... so we can have more 'local' oil at the pump?' If he even bothered to read what I wrote, it must have gone in one eye and out the other without any mental processing taking place whatsoever.

The Big Oil Companies aren't using the federal lands and waters that are already open to them for drilling.

The 68 million acres of leased, but inactive, federal land have the potential to produce an additional 4.8 million barrels of oil and 44.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day. This would nearly double total U.S. oil production, and increase natural gas production by 75 percent. It would also cut U.S. oil imports by more than one-third, reducing America's dependency on foreign oil.

Coal companies, which are issued leases for 20-year terms, are required, as a result of the Federal Coal Leasing Amendments Act of 1976 to show that they are diligently developing their leases during the initial lease term. The law was enacted in an effort to end rampant speculation on federal coal as a result of the energy crises of the 1970's.

Oil and gas companies, however, are not required to demonstrate diligent development. Because of this, oil and gas companies have been allowed to stockpile leases in a non-producing status, while leaving millions of acres of leased land untouched. The Rahall legislation [The Responsible Federal Oil and Gas Lease Act of 2008 (H.R. 6251) ] directs the Secretary of the Interior to define what constitutes diligent development for oil and gas leases.

"As long as oil companies hold oil hostage, they will continue to get away with charging high prices and demanding a greater share of the public's land. This bill forces their hand by compelling them to produce or hand the over their idle leases for someone who will," Rahall said.
Rahall to Big Oil: Use It or Lose It; Committee on Natural Resources

Since I hadn't yet seen Rahall's bill when I wrote to Ensign last week (I'll now have to write again), I urged him not to approve ANY drilling in ANWR and instead, to 'think outside the box' as business jargon goes. Maybe that was my mistake, I assumed he just might understand what I was implying. Apparently, that escaped him.

We need to wean ourselves off of oil, period. Energy comes in more forms than just 'oil' and our Nation's energy policy should address more that just 'oil.' Why is it that those gas stations that don't get their oil from the middle east are charging the same high prices as those that do? If they wanted to drill more and pump more they could. They're just not. So how is opening up more off-shore and ANWR drilling going to convince them to invest their coveted profits to actually drill for a change?

Something that would be much more expeditious would be to invest in infrastructure. Mass-transit systems are struggling, cutting back and/or failing at a time when people are finally turning to them instead of driving their own vehicle. Isn't that the culture change we've been trying to nurture for years? Well, folks are finally willing ... but public transit systems are cutting routes and parking buses. Provide subsidies to help them stay afloat, increase the number of routes and promote ridership.

Consider subsidizing the development of promising plug-in hybrids ... and I don't mean just GM's Volt which is still in development and isn't scheduled to make its debut until 2010 at the earliest. No, I'm talking about innovative vehicles like AFS Trinity's plug-in hybrid (150 mpg) or CityCat's air-powered car (powered by a compressor ... no gas at all and it will be available in India in September). Or, better yet, how about subsidizing a program to put solar power on residential rooftops all across states that have, on average, around 250 or more sunny, blue sky days each year ... or residential wind turbines on houses and in areas known to produce healthy winds.

I urged Ensign to do something that would make a meaningful difference. But, oh I forgot, he's a member of the Grand Oil Party. Why would I expect him to think of anything but ... oil, oil, more oil!

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