Thursday, July 5, 2007

Roskam and energy

This past Sunday, July 1, I participated in an event sponsored by Greenpeace in Glen Ellyn. Greenpeace has targeted Peter Roskam's district as one of thirteen in the nation to exert pressure on congressional representatives to take action on global warming. (An article appeared in the Glen Ellyn News this week - see for the article. You can also see more about Greenpeace's initiative at )

A little background: In January, Roskam voted against a bill that would repeal tax cuts to oil companies and impose a fee on companies that extract oil from the Gulf of Mexico. This bill also would set aside $14 billion to fund renewable energy sources. His rationale: the bill "make domestic production and exploration more expensive", and create market instability. In February of this year, he did support the authorization of the EPA to spend $10 million on research alternative fuels. His very first successful amendment was to put a caveat to this: the $10 million has to come from already approved funds.

So let's get this straight: No new money for development of alternative/renewable energy; no asking the oil companies to pay their fair share of taxes (despite the fact that the General Accounting Office has already found the oil companies doing business in the gulf have been avoiding paying royalties and fighting the government - Bush's own Interior Department - to fight this. One citation: "Anadarko (an oil company digging for oil in the Gulf), which earned $4.8 billion in profit last year on sales of $10.2 billion, is arguing that Congress guaranteed oil companies a special incentive for drilling in deep water under which the companies could avoid paying the standard royalty on much of what they produced in the Gulf of Mexico. The Interior Department has adamantly argued that the incentives were never supposed to apply when oil prices climbed above about $34 a barrel." See
In addition to no new funds for development, not one word about conservation; not one word about the record profits of the oil companies over the past two year; not one word about how much of the new exploration is far deeper for a cruder product that is much more costly to refine; basically, not one word about the fact that no matter where you look, oil is running out and people need to wake up.

More troubling than all this, however, is the laissez-faire attitude about global warming. In the Glen Ellyn News article, "Roskam underscored the importance of determining the exact science behind global warming". This is such a dangerous position to take. Any scientist will affirm that it is not possible to prove unequivocally what is causing global warming. The best that can be done is to show that models and predictions about global warming tied to carbon emissions have been extremely accurate. But, there is no test lab; we don't have an alternative planet on which to do a control to see what happens when we do decrease carbon emissions. The only way to prove this is to actually decrease carbon emissions and see if that makes a difference. But Roskam and others don't see it that way - cynically because that's the way some of his cronies and even big consumer constituents want it that way.

Here's what I'd argue: let's all commit to fully developing and utilizing renewable and cleaner energy while also decreasing our consumption. If global warming continues, and proves to be unrelated to carbon emission, at least we will know for certain, and we will become a less consumptive, and more creative society with cleaner air. Isn't that better than Peter's wait and see until it's too late mentality?