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Monday, December 24, 2007

Bush Administration Proposes $10 Billion Christmas Present From Joe Taxpayer to Big Oil

That's what it must have said on the holiday card delivered today by the White House to ExxonMobil executives along with a nice, fat, $10.3 billion check.

The Bush Administration proposed a change to Interior Department leasing rules today that would massively expand the volumes of oil that companies could produce without having to pay any royalties to the federal government for the privilege of drilling on public land. The Bush Administration's own estimates are that taxpayers could lose up to $10.3 billion over the next 26 years as a result of this rule change.

Of course, it's not President Bush paying for Big Oil's $10.3 billion Christmas present, it's Joe and Jane Q Taxpayer, who will be out their rightfully-earned revenues from the production of oil on public lands. Nothing like stealing from the poor to give to the rich to get President Bush in the holiday spirit.

The proposed Interior Department rules will result in at least $3 billion in lost revenue for the federal government. However, the losses get much worse if Big Oil wins in an ongoing law suit. If the oil industry wins in the currently pending Kerr-McGee Suit, the Interior Department projects that losses to the American taxpayer would soar to $10.3 billion.

The Bush Administration has not yet appealed a recent Louisiana District Court ruling in the Kerr-McGee case in the oil industry's favor. The Department of Justice has until December 30 to appeal the ruling. Want to guess whether or not President Bush stands up for you, the American Taxpayer, or with Big Oil?

These proposed rule changes at Interior come on the heels of a successful effort by the Bush Administration to block Congressional Democrats' plants to close existing royalty loopholes, like the one expanded by the new proposed Interior Department rule, and end unnecessary subsidies for Big Oil and Gas in order to re-invest federal subsidies into the clean, homegrown renewable energy technologies of the 21st Century.

President Bush repeatedly issued veto threats targeting any bill that would have re-invested funds from oil and gas in clean energy technologies, arguing that the subsidies - which were created at a time when oil was less than $20/barrel - were still necessary to promote domestic production - despite the fact that oil now trades close to $100/barrel, providing strong market incentives to prospect for new oil sources.

In the end, Congress passed a stripped-down energy bill that did not include the re-investment plan.

Just in case you were worried that Old King Coal or the Nuk-ular Industry were feeling left out this Christmas season, rest assured: Senate Republicans also managed to get about $30 billion in risky loan guarantees for new nuclear and extremely carbon-intensive coal-to-liquids plants into the Omnibus Budget Bill passed last week.

So why do I share these dreary Christmas Eve tidings with you?

Well, for one, you should know what the Bush Administration is trying to pull over on you while you're focused on wrapping presents and sipping eggnog with loved ones.

But more importantly, I'm sharing this news with you to hopefully cement the notion that what America desperately needs in the coming new year is an historic power shift!

We need an end to politics as usual - from either Republicans or Democrats - for all it will yield is more devastating business as usual while our urgent window of opportunity closes, leaving America and the world forever impoverished.

What we need in 2008 is a deep commitment to ending the climate crisis and building a sustainable, just, and prosperous future.

That commitment begins with us, with you and me, individuals who make a pledge to fight to overcome business as usual, enact a Power Shift, and build a brighter tomorrow for ourselves and our children.

It begins with you and me, and we must spread that sense of commitment as quickly as possible, to our friends, and family, throughout our communities, and to our elected officials.

Solving the climate crisis and transitioning to a sustainable, just, and prosperous future will require changes at both the individual and institutional levels. We must be committed to both and seek champions in government that will help us enact the latter while we forge ahead with the former.

As we look ahead at the coming year, contemplate our New Year's Resolutions, and steel ourselves for what must come, we should remember what is truly at stake, for it is our very future - and the future prosperity of this nation - on the line.

I for one am not content to see the light of opportunity we now have at our fingertips flicker and die as our elected officials continue a devastating and irresponsible politics and business as usual.

Here's to a new year and to the opportunities it brings! Here's to the Power Shift!

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