Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lube Job

Well, we must be getting close to an election, since Mr. Rogers is suddenly popping up EVERYWHERE in the Neighborhood with his new plan for energy independence.

Just in time for him to have something to talk about over the Memorial Day weekend, Mr. Rogers has now seen the light on alternative energy, national security and auto efficiency.

He's made a swell webcast, sent out e-mails, and happy-talked with local media.

The last time he showed any interest at all in the energy problem? Hmmm, let's see... during the 2006 election. Remember Ethanol Guy?

Too bad Rogers' actions in Congress over the past 8 years have made it quite clear that he only views energy policy as a handy campaign tool:

He's voted against investment in domestic biofuels, stopping subsidies for oil & gas industry, tougher CAFE standards, and keeping ANWR oil-rig free.

He's voted for the Bush-Cheney national energy policy, making it easier to permit and build new oil refineries.and

He was rated 17% on energy issues by the Campaign for America's Future; he was rated 100% by the American Coalition for Ethanol (from Project VoteSmart)

Oh, don't forget -- one year ago today, the Neighborhood had a post on Rogers' vote against a bill that would have outlawed gasoline price gouging. And over a year ago, Rogers was trotting out a similar pitch for energy independence that went nowhere.

Let's take a look at H.R. 6161, Mr. Rogers' "Energy Independence Day: July 4, 2015" extravaganza.

14. H.R.6161 : To provide for American energy independence by July 4, 2015.Sponsor: Rep Rogers, Mike J. [MI-8] (introduced 5/22/2008)

Cosponsors (None)

Committees: House Energy and Commerce; House Ways and Means; House Natural Resources; House Transportation and Infrastructure; House Rules; House Science and Technology Latest Major Action: 5/22/2008 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committees on Ways and Means, Natural Resources, Transportation and Infrastructure, Rules, and Science and Technology, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

No co-sponsors. No assignment to subcommittee. No clout to move this along (Rogers fell from 37th most powerful member in 2006 to 274th in 2007). No witnesses, apparently, other than hometown media.

This sounds familiar: you may recall Rogers' 2007 stand "against" the troop surge and the "introduction" of his own alternative bill, apparently in a closet with the light off.

Moving along to Mr. Rogers' website, we find a perky, content-free animated (!) version of The Plan, complete with marching barrels of foreign oil, a green tree snuggled up to an oil derrick, and scary foreign leaders (look out -- it's an Arab!). In the interest of time, we won't discuss the really annoying sound effects or cheap animation.

How about the bill itself? It's 116 pages long, mostly "extensions and modifications" of existing legislation. It's also filled with goodies for Rogers' friends:

OIL & GAS INDUSTRIES: continued tax breaks for the oil & gas industries; they would be able to drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; the Secretary of Energy wouldn't need to identify alternatives to ANWR oil leases or analyze the environmental effects of those alternatives; allow directional drilling underneath protected areas; the ban on offshore leasing and permitting drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf would be lifted.

AUTO INDUSTRY: tax credits for buying new cars, whether or not they fit the new CAFE standards (the auto industry is the 4th biggest contributor of Rogers' career).

NUCLEAR POWER: tax credits for the construction and expansion of nuclear plants; federal coverage of debt obligations incurred by project delays and other items; no environmental impact statement required for temporary spent nuclear fuel storage agreements; check out page 64 for a special little treat: once you get your nuclear reactor, treatment facility or storage facility licensed,
no consideration of the public health and safety, common defense and security, or environmental impacts of the storage of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel generated in reactors licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the past, currently, or in the future, is required by the Department of Energy or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in connection with the development, construction, and operation of, or any permit, license, license amendment, or siting approval for, a civilian nuclear power reactor or any facility for the treatment or storage of spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste.

Got that?

OTHER TREATS: tax credits for buying energy-efficient computer servers (a little bouquet for his legislative pal Anna Eshoo, D-CA and his friends at Lowry Computers (# 3 donor this cycle:$9,200); tax breaks for energy-efficient new homes, no doubt much appreciated by the Associated Builders & Contractors (#2 donor this cycle: $10,000).

I have a hunch that the dollar value of Rogers' industry tax breaks vs. the taxpayer tax breaks would skew pretty hard toward Exxon Mobil & Co. If there are any number crunchers out there, please let me know what you find...

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