Energy Bill Update

Yesterday was a self-imposed deadline for Republican-led resolution of House-Senate conflicts over the impending energy bill. I’m shocked, shocked to say that they missed the deadline. Note the areas where they claim to have gotten agreement:

The talks have been dominated by Republicans who have the votes to fashion the bill largely to their liking, despite Democratic objections. And on all but a few provisions, compromise agreements have been hammered out including at least $16 billion in tax benefits, mostly to promote greater production and use of coal, natural gas, domestic petroleum resources and nuclear power.

All sides also have agreed on measures that would improve the nation’s electric power grid, expand use of corn-based ethanol for gasoline, grant greater access to energy sources on federal land and build a pipeline to get to massive amounts of natural gas on Alaska’s North Slope.

Ugh. There’s a lot of stuff in those measures that is economically unsound and may even increase net energy use, such as increased ethanol use. But my political science friends tell me that as long as Denny Hastert is speaker of the House and the Iowa caucuses have the power they do in the Presidential election, corn farmers will be able to sock it to us, good and hard.

And ethanol’s nose gets in the tent through a renewable fuels mandate, not through the federal fuel oxygenate requirement. Ethanol a renewable fuel? Stop for a second to think about how ethanol is made: till soil, fertilize, plant corn, harvest, process it using lots of fossil fuel energy and creating air, water and soil emissions in the process, transport it in trucks, trains and barges to its consumption location. So there are a few parts in the production process that require fossil fuel use, and consequently result in emissions.

So ethanol’s not as clean as the ethanol supporters would have us believe …

Here’s another article on the stalled energy bill, and a Forbes article on removing the offshore oil and gas inventory provisions from the bill.