By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Sets up a $1.5 billion fund for drilling research into "Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources," which, according to California Democrat Henry Waxman, directly benefits Bush cronies and Tom DeLay's district. The money goes to a highly profitable industry. One prediction is that oil and gas net income will reach $230 billion this year. These people don't need any more handouts. It is a thinly disguised con, appearing to support arcane research techniques. In fact, the language in the bill would allow an oil or gas company to apply for funds for a wide variety of activities, including those involving "innovative exploration and production techniques" or "enhanced recovery techniques." According to the legislative language the government is to ladle out the money through a "contract with a corporation that is constructed as a consortium." The leading contender for this contract appears to be the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA), housed in the Texas Energy Center in Sugar Land, Texas. Halliburton is a member of RPSEA and sits on the board, as does Marathon Oil. The consortium can keep up to 10 percent of the fundsa fee of more than $100 million in this case, according to Waxman.
In a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert last Wednesday, Waxman wrote, "The provision was inserted into the energy legislation after the conference was closed, so members of the conference committee had no opportunity to consider or reject this measure. Before the final energy legislation is brought to the House floor, this provision should be deleted."
Needless to say, DeLay, the congressman from Sugar Land, promptly lost it. "Henry Waxman knows zero about Texas," said DeLay spokesperson Kevin Madden. "Zero about energy security, and apparently even less about how a bill becomes law."
"This is a good bill," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters after the energy measure passed the House. "This legislation will help us reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy and help address the root causes that have led to high energy prices."
Will it bring down gas prices? "Well," said McClellan, "we didn't get into this overnight, and we're not going to get out of it overnight."
STEADY THERE, BIG BOY
"It's a little bit like biblical Pharisees, you know, who basically are always trying to undermine Jesus Christ. . . . You know, it goes on the same way. If they can catch him in something, they can then criticize and the outside groups will go berserk." That was Utah Republican senator Orrin Hatch on July 21, describing to Fox News the nature of potential Democratic opposition to Supreme Court nominee Judge John Roberts.