The GOP in the last Congress blocked any climate change legislation, period. Now that they control the House they are attempting to strip the EPA of its right to regulate green house gases. Their energy plan for America places an emphasis on a continued use of oil and gas to the exclusion of renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions (i.e., conservation, upgraded electricity grid, etc.).
Guess who's thrilled by all this (besides Big Oil and Saudi Arabia, that is)? If you said Russia you win a PRIZE!
Russia's oil giant Rosneft has reported a 64% jump in annual profit thanks to higher oil prices and a growth in oil production and refining volumes.
Of course, Canada with its tar sands (which produce the dirtiest burning fossil fuels this side of coal) must be quite satisfied also that the Party of No that always seems to dominate the political discourse in the media of their neighbor to the North continues to ignore clean energy in preference for dirty fuels.
Even the White House has been forced (or not depending on your point of view) to support the use of Canadian tar sand oil. This insures the US of Stupid will be a good customer ...
WASHINGTON — A report prepared for the White House supports the idea of an oil pipeline from the Alberta tar sands to Texas.
The report says the 3,000-kilometre pipeline could substantially reduce U.S. dependency on oil from the Middle East and other regions.
The report, by Massachusetts firm EnSys Energy and Systems, was completed December 23rd and made public this week.
The project's developer, Calgary-based TransCanada, says the pipeline would improve U.S. energy security and reduce dependence on foreign [oil].
... for their dirty tar sand oil products for decades to come.
Believe it or not, Canada is now a burgeoning player in the global energy market thanks in large part to bitumen. It has become "the largest single exporter of oil to the United States," bypassing Saudi Arabia and providing "nearly one-fifth of all U.S. oil imports" (2).
But bitumen [tar sands oil] is a nasty, truly dirty form of oil–perhaps one of the dirtiest forms of oil or any energy source imaginable. "Each barrel of bitumen," Nikiforuk states, "produces three times as much greenhouse gas as one barrel of oil" (3). Getting it out of the ground (think sucking cold maple syrup through a straw) requires immense amounts of water, terribly destructive collection methods, and intensive alterations to the environment (through pollution, infrastructure, etc.). As the author so strikingly puts it, "bitumen is the equivalent of scoring heroin cut with sugar, starg, powdered milk, quinine, and strychnine" (16).
Yes, won't that be wonderful? Because Canada is certainly not a foreign country whatsoever. I tried to tell that to a Canadian Customs official at the border last year bit for some strange reason he still insisted on seeing my American passport.
Of course, the market sets the price for oil, so it's not like we are saving money by sending some of our ever more worthless dollars Canada's way. And the longer we insist on relying on fossil fuels and ignoring renewable energy and energy efficiency, the more we will prop up the price of oil. That deliberate decision to rely primarily on fossil fuels may benefit Russia and Saudi Arabia and Venezuela (Oh my god! The Republicans want to help out a Marxist Latin American ruler?) and of course BP and Exxon Mobile, but it will do little to benefit Americans who will lose jobs and income to countries devoted to developing carbon free 21st Century industries at the expense of continuing to rely on dirty 20th Century ones.
By the way, here's what the Republicans want to gut from the federal budget with respect to renewable energy, etc.
Among the programs on the chopping block are:
* $530 million in DOE Grants to States for Weatherization
* $95 million for beach replenishment
* $2 billion for New Starts Transit funding for public transit improvements
* $1.27 billion for DOE applied research
* $2.5 billion for intercity and high-speed rail grants.
* $200 million for FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership
* $56.2 and elimination of National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program
* $52 million for Energy Star program
* $12.5 million in funding for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
What does the Republican energy plan rely upon to keep our constitutional right to drive gas guzzling SUV's? I do believe I already mentioned it, but here are the specifics:
[The House Republicans' plan] relies on oil production everywhere possible, including off the coast of Alaska (it's become clear that oil companies would never be able to contain a spill in the Arctic Ocean). It also relies on developing US tar sands in the West (Canada's are three times more polluting tha[n] conventional oil production). And it mandates construction of 200 new nuclear plants by 2050 (a nuke costs $10-$20 billion to build and takes about 10 years - think of how much solar, wind, geothermal could be built for that price. It takes a week to put up a new, large wind turbine).
Oh yes, nukes. How could I have forgotten the nuclear industry. For Republicans that was a no brainer I suppose. Just don't ask the to store any nuclear wastes in their gated community backyards, though. That's what poor minority neighborhoods are for:
A 2007 study reports, "race continues to be a significant and robust predictor of commercial hazardous waste facility locations when socioeconomic factors are taken into account." [...]
Native American groups face threats from radioactive waste and other kinds of waste dumping, strip mining, fisheries loss, damming of traditional waterways, and land confiscation or invasion. Like other minority groups, Native Americans needing income may have little choice but to accept toxic industries that may provide jobs or a tax base. [...]
Power plants have traditionally been sited disproportionately in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods. In addition to being aesthetically unappealing, power plants emit a variety of toxic chemicals. [...]
Numerous scholars have shown that hazardous and solid waste facilities, industrial plants, and low level radioactive waste facilities tend to be disproportionately concentrated in low income communities and communities of color.
America is already falling China and Europe in the race to develop clean energy technologies. And the Republicans are bound and determined that it stays that way. As for climate change being a threat, well, as Rush Limbaugh would say haven't you seen the snow outside? As for that Category Five cyclone named Yasi (that means hurricane in American) that hit Queensland Australia with rain and winds that exacerbated weeks of record rains and floods, and quite likely pulverized large sections of the Great Barrier Reef to dust, or the ever diminishing Arctic ...
While the USA shivers, the Arctic has been much warmer than average this winter.
Due to the warmth, the amount of sea ice coverage in the Arctic was at its lowest January level on record, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported this week.
... and Greenland ice sheets, even in the midst of winter, lets just ignore that shall we?
New research shows that 2010 set new records for the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, expected to be a major contributor to projected sea level rises in coming decades.
"This past melt season was exceptional, with melting in some areas stretching up to 50 days longer than average," said Dr. Marco Tedesco, director of the Cryospheric Processes Laboratory at The City College of New York (CCNY -- CUNY), who is leading a project studying variables that affect ice sheet melting.
Kirk told the New York Times that his rationale for not supporting climate change legislation in Illinois is the result of Al Gores' personal life, not as a result of political or economic factors. "The consensus behind the climate change bill collapsed and then further deteriorated with the personal and political collapse of Vice President [Al] Gore," Kirk said in what was described as a "brief interview."
In 2009 Kirk voted for cap-and-trade climate change legislation when he was a congressman. He then backtracked, saying that opponents of the bill sent him "a stronger reaction than I've ever seen before." He then said he only supported the bill to satisfy the "narrow interests" of his congressional district, but wouldn't support the bill in the Senate.
We may be having a Sputnik moment, but it doesn't seem the Republican party gives a damn about it. And that makes oil producers, whether they reside in Russia, Venezuela, Canada or the Middle East just thrilled to pieces.
Read more thrilling stories like this at Booman Tribune.