Re: [hreg] Why is this so hard for politicians to understand?
- Did you read the article in the Houston Chronicle on 12/18/02 page 39A? It was talking about the expected Speaker of the Texas House Tom Craddick. It mentioned a measure which temporarily eliminated the severance tax on certain oil and gas wells. The paragraph said," Bush and other supporters of the tax break, which remained in effect for seven months in 1999 during a recession in the oil industry, said it was essential to keep some wells in operation, protect jobs and avoid erosion of school district tax bases." In 2001, the Texas Legislature reduced these severance taxes I believe. Has anyone read any books or articles linking declining oil production and an increase in the number of so called marginal oil and gas wells to the state's fiscal problems? If we want to increase oil and gas production so badly in Texas, I see politicians suggesting that we altogether eliminate state taxes on oil and gas production as well as exempt all oil and gas production in state waters and on state lands from royalties. How would they offset this loss of revenue? On another note, page 8 of the December 2002/January 2003 edition of Home Power talks about Wales being "a hotbed for vegetable powered transportation, and motorists opting to run their vehicles on something other than petrol are definitely drawing some heat." What happened is that the police in Wales do not want people to drive vehicles that use fuel that is not taxed. As the story was quoted, "One veggie oil commuter recounted his experience of being pulled over by an unmarked police car.' The officer went to the fuel tank, dipped it, and found cooking oil. I put my hands up to the offence, but the car was towed away.' He was fined 500 pounds (US$780) for using an illegal untaxed fuel, and stuck with a 150 pond (US$234) towing charge." The taxes people pay on gasoline and diesel fuel in the U.K. I know are very high, but the main purpose should not be to generate revenue but instead to discourage the inefficient use of petroleum products.
Amazing how our dependence on fossil fuels is at the heart of so many problems regarding war and peace, the environment, and a sustainable world. This article by Robert Redford (below) calls for the obvious - conservation and renewables. Also today Thomas Friedman in his column calls for (again, as he has in the past) a Manhattan Project to increase fuel efficiency and slash the cost of alternative energy sources to reduce our dependence on foriegn oil.
Many others have expressed the same ideas. They are clear and simple. This is not rocket science. But I am not aware of anyone in either major political party who is vigorously proposing such actions. What more evidence do we need that both parties serve corporate policy rather than the public interest, even when the result is disasterous and a big part of the solution is readily available?
HoustonChronicle.com -- http://www.HoustonChronicle.com | Section: Viewpoints, Outlook
Dec. 7, 2002, 7:19PM
Ultimate patriotism? Cut out fossil fuels
By ROBERT REDFORD
The Bush White House talks tough on military matters in the Middle East while remaining virtually silent about the long-term problem posed by U.S. dependence on fossil fuels. Failing to rein in our dependence on imported oil gives leverage to undemocratic and unstable regimes.
Wasteful consumption of fossil fuels creates political liabilities overseas, air pollution at home and global warming. The rate at which the United States burns fossil fuels has made our country a leading contributor to global warming.
The Bush administration's energy policy to date -- a military garrison in the Middle East and drilling for more oil in the Arctic and other fragile habitats -- is costly, dangerous and self-defeating.
Despite the absence of leadership on energy security in Washington, some efforts on the local level are paying off. Last year, San Francisco voters overwhelmingly approved a $100 million bond initiative to pay for solar panels, wind power and energy efficiency for public buildings. The measure was supported not only by the environmental community but also by the Chamber of Commerce, labor unions and the American Lung Association.
San Francisco's first solar project, a $5.2 million energy-efficiency upgrade at the Moscone Convention Center, was dedicated last month. What's the straight economic benefit of this particular project? Plenty. The upgrades and the panels combined will cut energy consumption in the building by as much as 38 percent, and the project will pay for itself from energy savings. The net savings to taxpayers after debt service is subtracted are projected to be more than $200,000 a year.
American rooftops can be the Persian Gulf of solar energy. After Australia, no developed nation on Earth gets more annual sunlight than the United States. In addition, wind is now the fastest-growing energy source worldwide and one of the cheapest. But wind and solar power generate less than 2 percent of U.S. power. We can do better.
We can increase auto fuel economy standards to 40 miles per gallon. The technology to achieve that goal exists now. Phasing in that standard by 2012 would save 15 times more oil than Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is likely to produce over 50 years. We could also give tax rebates for existing hybrid gas-electric vehicles that get as much as 60 miles per gallon and invest in mass transit.
These measures would keep energy dollars in the American economy, reduce air pollution and create jobs at home.
The benefits of switching to a mostly pollution-free economy would be considerable, and the costs of failing to do so would be steep. Prolonging our dependence on fossil fuels would guarantee homeland insecurity. If you are worried about getting oil from an unstable Persian Gulf, consider the alternatives: Indonesia, Nigeria, Uzbekistan.
If we want energy security, then we have to reduce our appetite for fossil fuels. There's no other way. Other issues may crowd the headlines, but this is our fundamental challenge.
Big challenges require bold action and leadership. To get the United States off fossil fuels in this uneasy national climate of terrorism and conflict in the Persian Gulf, we must treat the issue with the urgency and persistence it deserves. The measure of our success will be the condition in which we leave the world for the next generation.
Weaning our nation from fossil fuels should be understood as the most patriotic policy to which we can commit ourselves.
Redford, the actor and director, is a Vote Solar supporter
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