Cheat-Seeking Missles

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Domestic Downside Of Dems

While much of the focus on the new congressional Democrat majority has focused on foreign policy issues, the Dem domestic policy initiatives are perhaps even more worrying in the long term.

If we are forced by an anti-Bush Congress to abandon the war in Iraq, it will not destroy America. We will have to fight again, and we may end up losing more soldiers and civilians as a result, but we will survive, and unless we're unlucky enough to be one or know one of the Americans who dies as a result of this misdirected policy shift, we'll not be much impacted by it.

Not so with domestic policy. We'll be paying for the change in the minimum wage through a round of price increases for all sorts of products, of course, but there are much more troubling examples, like Rep. Nick Rahall's Energy Policy Reform and Revitalization Act of 2007. The West Virginia Dem has created a Greenie wet dream in this bill -- which, because of a Dem majority, passed through committee and is now pending on the House floor.

How bad is it? Ask the Sierra Club, because they're delighted by it:
The Energy Policy Reform and Revitalization Act of 2007 will help set America on the path toward energy independence, increase accountability in the management of federal energy resources, spur alternative energy sources, and provide the support necessary to help mitigate the impact of global warming on wildlife.

H.R. 2337 reforms many of the ill-conceived provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct). The bill will also establish long-overdue reforms of the federal energy program, including establishing a fee on non-producing oil, gas, and coal leases to discourage speculative lease holdings and generate funds to repair damage to wildlife and habitats. In addition, the bill will protect water resources impacted by energy development and the rights of private surface owners of lands where the U.S. government holds the underlying mineral estate.

Finally, the bill will create a comprehensive national framework to address the impacts of global warming on wildlife. Global warming poses one of the greatest threats to ecosystem integrity and individual fish and wildlife species and their habitat.
Before we buy into that line of thinking, perhaps we'd best check elsewhere for opinion, like with the Republicans on the Natural Resource Committee:
H.R. 2337 is being touted by the Democratic leadership as an “energy” bill but it essentially repeals all of the positive energy measures of the past 12 years. ...

H.R. 2337 has the primary goal of repealing the bipartisan energy policies overwhelmingly adopted in the >Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct), which developed a comprehensive energy policy that increases energy efficiency and conservation, expands U.S. energy supplies and encourages investment in new energy technologies.

H.R. 2337 makes energy harder to produce, more expensive, and less available. Consequently, Americans will have to rely on more foreign imports and pay more for energy at a time when gas prices are currently at an all-time high. Briefly, here’s the essence of the Democratic “energy” bill:
  • It makes oil and natural gas harder and more expensive to produce domestically;
  • It increases the costs of all energy by making energy corridors tougher to build;
  • It makes wind energy projects harder to build and adds more uncertainty to the projects;
  • It stops our nation’s largest potential liquid transportation fuel source – our two trillion barrel oil shale resource - dead in its tracks;
  • It federalizes the traditionally state-managed fish and wildlife resources under the guise of “global climate change”;
  • And it does absolutely nothing for our nation’s other huge resource - coal.
Of course, it doesn't address coal because Rahall's from West Virginia, so he has to be pro-coal. Greenies would have liked to have had similar draconian restrictions on coal production and utilization, but they knew they wouldn't be able to get Rahall to carry their water there, so they've graciously not criticized the bill's lack of restrictions on coal.

(Interestingly, if you search Rahall's site for anything on the bill, you won't find it.)

The second bullet -- making energy corridors more difficult to build -- may not resonate with many, but it's a huge concern. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized the Dept. of Energy to assess the nation's energy corridors, and find areas where electrical transmission systems were so overtaxed as to threaten consumers. National Policy Analysis reports the findings:
According to DOE, the Mid-Atlantic region's tenuous electricity supply is an especially urgent matter. Without increased transmission capacity, "reliability violations will occur" in the northern Virginia - Washington, D.C. - Baltimore area by 2011. The same is true for southeastern New York State. Northern New Jersey and central Pennsylvania would experience similar problems in 2014 and 2019 respectively. ...

The seriousness of the problem prompted DOE to designate two "National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors" in April 2007 for both the Mid-Atlantic region and Southwest region of the country, which is also in need of a critical upgrade. These National Corridors are geographic, interstate areas where necessary, additional transmission infrastructure could be built to solve the regions' congestion woes.
Rahall's bill pretty much would make it impossible to designate these corridors, however, because it would:
  • Make it illegal for corridors to be placed within a mile of any land designated by the feds or a state for "protection of scenic, natural, cultural or historic resources," and
  • Ban any land considered a "sensitive ecological area, including any area that is designated as critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 or otherwise identified as sensitive or crucial habitat, including seasonal habitat, by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, by a State agency responsible for managing wildlife or wildlife habitat, or in a Federal or State land use plan"
That basically means it will be impossible to weave a pathway for these corridors, even if the first bullet makes some sense, if you put feeling good ahead of doing good. Sure, it feels good to look at a pretty landscape without powerlines, but if the powerlines are needed for the country to do well, shouldn't the tough decision prevail?

Besides, armed with this tool, Greenies will go on a spree of scenic, natural, cultural or historic designation efforts, for no other reason than to place roadblocks in the way of the corridors.

The second point, banning corridors in critical habitat, is ridiculous. I've been involved in dozens of critical habitat fights, and in the creation of large-scale Habitat Conservation Plans that have protected hundreds of thousands of acres for endangered species. There is widespread agreement that electrical transmission corridors and critical habitat are highly compatible.

The corridors require minimal maintenance, so there's little human impact under and around them, and they naturally create wildlife migration corridors along their route. There is no biological reason for Rahall to put this provision in his bill. There is, however, a Greenie reason: Greenies equate electrical power lines with growth, and they are vehemently anti-growth.

It doesn't matter that the growth has already occurred and must be dealt with. It doesn't matter that people are still having babies. They will fling themselves against growth until they die ... unless its the house they want to move in to ... because growth besmirches Gaea's veil and therefore is evil in their cosmology.

There's a long path ahead for Rahall's bill, so there's still a chance it will be watered down or lost in the Congressional legislative wilderness. But that doesn't minimize the risk it poses -- not just with its specifics, but also because it shows how dangerous the Greenie-Dem alliance can be.

See also:
Warmie Psychic: Warmies To Be "Shocked"
Greenies Fight To Stop Green Energy

hat-tip: Jim

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