Upcoming Energy Bill

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Thanatoast, Jul 26, 2005.

  1. Thanatoast macrumors 6502a

    Thanatoast

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    #1
    From the NYTimes:
    link

    And once again, conservation is given back seat to tax breaks for oil companies which incedentally posted record profits last year. McClellan says that four years is long enough to wait for an energy bill. I'd gladly wait four more years for a good one.

    And then saying the President has little power over gas prices - um, how much has the price of a barrel of oil gone up since we invaded Iraq? 10, 15, 20 dollars? Also, if the President was pushing for stricter standards rather than bigger tax breaks, guess what? We'd probably have stricter standards and less tax breaks. The President cannot affect the specifics, but he can set the tone and the priorities. The WH is copping out. Surprise.

    They took four years to even admit that the companies producing MTBE shouldn't be shielded from clean-up, and that the clean-up (from another source) will be mainly government funded. State and local, mind you, not federal.

    What a bunch of corporate stooges.

    I've written many a letter to my congressmen and senators, and almost always get a response - from a flunky, at least. But I have to wonder if the message is actually getting through. Congress always seems to do the opposite of what I think is the correct course. I mean, are there millions of Americans writing their representatives saying "please, we don't think oil companies are getting enough help from the government"? Or, "senator, could you please make sure that my next car won't have higher gas mileage?" Or "I would like the Senate to emphasize more pollution-generating energy sources instead of looking towards alternative/renewable energy." ???
     
  2. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #2
    seemingly, given this quote from the article, "but those of us elected by the people every two years have a different view of that."

    i think that when people aren't voting from fear, they're voting from their wallets. high gas prices = bad, while low gas prices = good. the means to those ends are a little much for people to care about, apparently.
     
  3. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #3
    There was a NYT article some days back talking about the record profits of oil companies. Finally, down near the end of the article, there was a comment that profits were running about eight percent. The long-term average for major corporations used to be in the four to six percent range; it's been below that in recent years. While it's a lot of dollars, it's not much of a big deal in terms of ROI.

    As far as tax breaks and drilling, Big Oil generally doesn't do drilling in the US. The biggies get the offshore leases and do platform drilling, but on land the drilling is subbed out. On-land drilling is most commonly done by multitudes of independent operators. That's why in places like Odessa you'll see bumper stickers with, "Lord, just give me one more good well. I promise I won't piss it away this time." For that matter, many of the wells are owned by independents, who then sell the oil and gas to independent refiners as well as the Biggies.

    I've read that the recent jumps in gasoline prices cut SUV sales by some 27%. Does anybody have any later info? Seems like the marketplace will be self-healing as to consumption, if more folks are buying high-milers instead of gas hogs.

    'Rat
     
  4. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #4
    great news, hopefully it's just a start.

    now, how 'bout some congressional / WH leadership on increasing CAFE mileage standards?
     
  5. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #5
    I'm not sure increasing the CAFE is necessarily the best way to go. I've long favored a weight tax, with the monies to go into highway maintenance funds (not construction). Lighter vehicles just naturally get better mileage, particularly in town. One problem with the idea of pushing the CAFE is that it hits the sedan market the most: You wind up with flimsy, no-acceleration junk. Too many people who don't need full-size pickups buy the damned things (4,500 pounds and more), and you flat-out aren't gonna get a full-size pickup to get better than around 20 mpg.

    I'd like to see a change in the tax laws about company vehicles. Now, if the GVW is at or above 6,500 pounds, it's a 100% writeoff regardless of cost. That leads to giantism is "company vehicles" such as one-ton 4WD Suburbans and suchlike. Quit being mad at Corporate America and let them write off 100% of anything, with maybe an upper $$$ limit of $40,000 or $50,000 instead of the $13,000 limit on cars with a GVW under 6,500 pounds. That would get rid of a lot of Cowboy Cadillacs...

    'Rat
     
  6. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #6
    Come on 'Rat... I wouldn't call an Accord flimsy or say it lacks acceleration capability. If they can do it, why can't others?
     
  7. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #7
    i'm not talking about upping it, say, 10 mpg in a year. what about .5/mpg per year for 20 years? give the reluctant US automakers some time to plan ahead.

    and i'm open to all sorts of ideas, including weight taxes. if we're all this clever part-time, why can't our full-time reps be even more so?
     
  8. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #8
    Hey, mac, Hondas are among the best there are. Those engines are built like watches. I did a rebuild on a Civic, and some buyers' checks on several Accords for a buddy of mine.

    There's always gonna be price competition within a given model class, which means that if you want to sell a given car for a given price, if it costs more to provide the more economical mpg package, something has to give. Either a smaller motor (less acceleration on a freeway ramp) or thinner sheet metal and bumpers--or thinner metal in suspensions and axle housings. TANSTAAFL.

    zim, the incremental bit would drive all manufacturers nuts. They work on multi-year cycles. Better to go for, say, a 10% improvement as a goal for, say 2008 or 2009. Let it be known that that would be The Deal for some ten years. That gives the engineers and sheet-metal folks time to get packages put together that would have reasonable reliability.

    A ten-percent increase in fuel mileage would mean a serious drop in demand for gasoline; coupled with the marketplace impact of higher prices and (maybe) a weight tax, the bottom line could be maybe a 20% reduction within a few years. That's noticeable. It also gives time--as important to our nation as it was to Napoleon--to bring more alternatives on line. It seems to me that right now our whole energy deal is a transition period, and it's not an overnight thing.

    One thing in the article about the energy bill that's as serious as a heart attack was the comment about re-election. The public at large won't tolerate serious disruptions in a lifestyle without its being gradual. Draconic changes would bring about promises of free Bubble Up and you'd see all manner of advancing to the past.

    Separately, given that none of the non-transportation-fuel portion of a barrel of oil is wasted, if we use less gasoline--and thus less crude oil, what happens in the prices of products derived from petro-chemicals?

    'Rat
     
  9. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #9
    sounds good to me. now let's add tax incentives to buy vehicles that meet certain high mileage and low emission criteria, coupled w/ tax disincentives on vehicles w/ the opposite characteristics, and more carpool lanes where traffic offense payments go towards public transportation, and i think we've got a good start.
     
  10. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #10
    "...low emissions criteria..."

    What do you mean when you say that? I recall from some EPA commentary back in the last century ( :D ) that some 93% of the removable toxic stuff had been removed from auto exhausts. The mix of chemistry in the fuel, the higher combustion temperatures and the catalytic reactors have done about all that can be done.

    It's historical fact that as the mpg goes up, people drive more and the total demand for gasoline has increased right along with this. Factor in the distances people now commute--which I think is one of the contributions to both total use and smog. I don't know about Old Farts and RVs, as to a percentage of total use. CAFE doesn't affect them.

    I haven't googled around for it lately: Anybody know the present auto population of the US? And, what's the present sales rate of new cars, per year? Anyhow, you divide the former by the latter and that will give you some feel for how long it would take for any sort of new measures to show effectiveness...

    'Rat
     
  11. anonymous161 macrumors 6502

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    #11
    Spend 4 years on an energy bill that manages little more than a promise to "look into" alternative energy sources and conservation. Oh, and throw in a few million in tax breaks for Big Oil why we are talking about it. That is just asstastic. At some point in time, we have to sit down and talk about reducing the need for oil because no matter how much you think is out there, oil is not infinite and it is not renewable. There isn't an alternate source that can provide as much specific energy, that is a known fact, but surely subsidizing our current oil use with alternatives can help. I have a few ideas, most of which aren't new, so feel free to poke holes. Remember, most of these are just small things that could help when combined.

    CAFE standards need to be increased and the concept of "light truck" needs to be redefined. Right now anything with a flat load floor constitutes a truck, which includes mini vans, wagons, and car based SUVs. This is stupid.
    A tax should be added to any vehicle that is not within 20% of the recommended MPG for its class.
    A tax reduction on any vehilce that has 20% better MPG than its class.

    As Rat said, as MPG goes up so does distance driven. Let's mandate fuel tank size based on the concept of total range. And instead of almost 400 miles, lets reduce that to 300 miles. So, if a car like my Civic averages 30 mpg urban, it should have a 10 gallon (approx) tank. Then, no matter how efficient a car is or isn't, a driver is filling up every 300 miles like everyone else. I think needing to fill up more often could convince people to drive less.

    Reduce tax on diesel and biodiesel. Expand tax incentives on biodiesel and bioethanol based vehicles.

    Instead of depreciating based on GVW, allow businesses to depreciate vehicles that meet fuel economy standards, with seperate standards for trucks and cars.

    Tax on gasoline powered reacreational equipment like boats, ATVs, etc. Extra tax on 2 stroke powered equipment.

    Tax on reacreational fuel for boats, jet skis, snowmobiles, ATVs and lawn equipment. Basically, anything you put into one of those red fuel containers should be taxed. Tax on 2 stroke oils as well.

    Tax break to single vehicle households

    Tax break/bond incentive for buying a primary residence in an "urban zone" My state offered a bond for first time home buyers that paid the down payment on my house. This was based on total income, house price, and relative urbanization. I then had more money to make improvements to the property. If a program like this could be combined with a annual tax break, I think that suburban flight could be slowed somewhat, which would definitely aid in fuel consumption.

    Additional "energy guzzler" taxes on homes over a certain square footage.
    Tax incentives on the most efficient insulation and home building materials.

    A higher overall gasoline tax is probably needed as well, unfortunately. Unless you pushed a windfall tax on Big Oil.

    None of these ideas are that great, but even a few not-so-great ideas could offer a better future than no ideas at all.
     
  12. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #12
    "Tax policy is public policy." For instance, the deduction of interest for home loans is an expression of public policy favoring ownership of one's home.

    Similarly, use of taxation can be a public policy expression concerning conservation of energy. The big problem is that all the ideas that have been expressed about taxation and vehicles insofar as usage are brand new to Joe Sixpack. If Joe gets the perception that he's being treated unfairly, he'll happily leap into bed with whatever lobbyists seem to be helping him.

    Right now, "Five acres, five miles from town" is a powerful, emotional "thing" that's going on. Some of this is enabled by the Internet, insofar as working at home. Some of it is us retired Old Farts.

    And some of us have lived for years where a Honda Civic just won't do very well. (Today's picture.)

    'Rat
     

    Attached Files:

  13. diamond geezer macrumors regular

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    #13
    Check out this letter:

    link

    Just amazing.
     
  14. anonymous161 macrumors 6502

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    #14
    I agree. But (there is always a but) the two energy conservation proposals that will have the smallest impact on Joe Sixpack's daily life (increasing CAFE standards across fleets and requiring energy companies to power 10% of their grids with alternative sources) keep getting booted by short-sighted lawmakers who seem to feel that as long as we ignore the problem there will be plenty of "texas tea" in the ground.

    I guess I could start a letter writing campaign to Detroit: "Pretty please Mr. GM, could you increase the fuel economy in your V8 Silverado, I have been a real good boy this year."

    Or even better: "Dear American Electric Power, I am writing to inform you that if you do not convert 10% of your power generation to wind farming or some other alternative energy source within the next 5 years I am going to stop paying my bill."
    Goodbye MacRumors, hello candles and a flashlight.
     
  15. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #15
    The energy industry spent over $300 million lobbying congress during the last 2 1/2 years. Now, that might seem like a lot of money to you and me, but it was a great investment, which paid off with a handsome $11 billion transfer of wealth from the taxpayers to the industry -- just like the rigged slot machine it is. And for all that, the "energy bill" isn't going to result in the production of a significant amount of new energy. It won't have any impact on the cost of your next fill-up, or the one after that or the one after that... or any fill-up, ever!

    Just keep voting for those Republicans, boys and girls. They're certainly looking after your interests.

    If you're an oil company.
     
  16. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #16
    This is whats going on, Congress is for sale to most these corporations. Also dont forget the Automakers who give big time which has given us MPG standards that come from the 80s. We can do better but until the american people cut off corporation purse strings, congress will allways be doing business for special interest at the cost of every American. Congress has made Bribes a way of doing its business.
     
  17. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #17
    Back in the 1970s when I worked on the Coastal Zone management Program, a joint NOAA/state deal, I met a lot of movers and shakers in Big Industry. A large number of them are truly puzzled as to why they're picked on, when their jobs--as they see it--are to give the public what it wants in the way of products.

    If, somehow, people in general didn't have the "keep up with the Joneses" attitude, would they buy the luxury gas hogs? Would small families buy/build five-bedroom houses?

    How do you persuade people to act in both their own interest and that of the country as a whole? I don't have any sort of free-society answer. Without forcing, how do you persuade or educate folks into the idea that big, heavy vehicles are poor investment decisions for transport of only one or two people and a few groceries? How do you persuade folks that incredible quantities of material "stuff" aren't necessary to achieve True Happiness?

    Or, maybe, how is it that so many people equate tons of material possessions with True Happiness?

    'Rat
     
  18. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #18
    I think you do have an answer.

    You don't force. You suggest. You incentivize the interests of the country so people have a reason to put the country's interests higher up on the priority list.
     
  19. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #19
    As long as Big Business pays for Congress campaigns you are never going to get these folks to act in "OUR" Interest.
     
  20. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #20
    I wandered over to http://www.whiskeyandgunpowder.com and found this guy's views:

    http://www.whiskeyandgunpowder.com/Archives/20050726.html

    Oil folks can lobby and Congress can dither, but sooner or later the icy teeth of reality will bite folks on the butt.

    I've been watching the various bits and pieces about the economies and demands for oil and other commodities of China and India. It's hard for me to argue with some of the author's conclusions.

    Developed nations depend on energy and transportation. Economies, standards of living, etc. People go to war over that stuff...

    'Rat
     
  21. mpw Guest

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    Jun 18, 2004
    #21
    Not sure I buy that.

    True over time the demand for gasoline has increased becuase people more poeple drive and more people drive more. The mpg of the average vehicle has also improved with time.

    Your quote seems to imply that it's the better fuel economy that has caused the explosion in car use but I think it's just a fact that car use would have grown as it has even with poor gas mileage. America, I think it's fair to say, has about the highest car use but the average American car has a low gas mileage.

    Average gas mileage could be massively improved if:-
    We didn't add 100kg of sound insulation etc. to a new car just as we improve its gas milage by a couple of mpg.
    There was a move to manual transmission from autos.
    Fashion didn't dictate that everyone drive SUV's
    We accepted that the speed limit, whether legal or practical, means there's no point in having a car that can reach 208mph with four passengers.

    Elsewhere in the world of energy saving.
    I read an article recently, from a UK paper, about the amount of electrical energy that is used by household appliances on stand-by. I was shocked to find out that for example a dishwasher uses around 50% of the power it uses while working when it's sat on stand-by at the end of a cycle! The list was extensive and shocking in that if people, in the UK, put their water heaters on a timer so water wasn't constantly being heater overnight etc. the power saved could power the lighting requirements in a major city.
     
  22. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #22
    More and more, we're actually moving to on-demand water heaters. They cost more up front but are highly desired by homeowners because they consume just about zero energy when hot water isn't being used. They also install in the wall rather than taking up space on the floor. The technology has improved quite a bit in recent years too.
     
  23. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #23
    I'm trying to think of an important energy saving technology that was invented in the US or wasn't adopted here last if at all. On-demand water heating just one technology in use just about everywhere -- but not in the US. Why isn't making them more popular part of the energy bill? Could it be because this administration and this congress really don't believe in energy conservation? Could it be that they're completely in the thrall the energy producers, who haven't got any financial interest in seeing the US consume less energy per capita -- and who richly reward members of congress for not caring?

    Yeah, those poor guys in the oil and gas industry -- they are so unfairly picked on. They scarf up $11 billion of our tax dollars for essentially nothing and some of us have the actual temerity to notice the fleecing. Tell me another bedtime story...
     
  24. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #24
    "Yeah, those poor guys in the oil and gas industry -- they are so unfairly picked on. They scarf up $11 billion of our tax dollars for essentially nothing..."

    IJ, that's not at all the point. Whether car makers or big ranchers or oilmen, they see themselves as supplying a demand. They meet the demand. They don't understand why that's seen as bad.

    Further, they don't see themselves as screwing the public, whether they are or not. They don't think that way. They love to "get over" on other oil companies, but insofar as their lobbying efforts, it's purely and simply to protect the bottom line.

    What you're talking about is the effort to direct governmental interactions within a business sector. Big Oil is in business to make money; government actions affect the money, so Big Oil tries to affect government. This process is the same for any special interest group.

    Your gripe oughta be with those in Congress who let themselves be persuaded to our detriment.

    'Rat
     
  25. Dont Hurt Me macrumors 603

    Dont Hurt Me

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    #25
    Nice post and i so agree, democrats and republicans both are fighting over who can screw us harder.
     

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