Sometimes you take a look at things and wonder if our historical amnesia is such that it has robbed us of all the lessons of the past so we simply can't seem to move forward no matter the cost of standing pat. It reminds me of a line from the movie Cloud Atlas, where one of the many inter-linked characters played by Halle Berry, Luisa Rey, explains to a young boy why she is reading some old letters. "I don't know. Just trying to understand why we keep making the same mistakes... over and over." Indeed.
Recently, I was reading a few items that made me think of this -- especially when it comes to our Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS), which symbolizes a move away from wars at least partially based on energy concerns and oil-soaked political con-men.
I was thinking about how we should be heading towards environmentally friendly biofuels, such as biodiesel, as the basis of our move away from a carbon-based economy. But it seems that is one mistake we want to keep making, apparently, if I am to understand the EPA's proposal slashing our yearly biofuel quotas:
"Industry-observers had been scratching their heads for six months trying to figure out why the EPA had decided to undermine a bipartisan environmentally-friendly law that even George W. Bush liked.
Earlier speculation centered around the Keystone Pipeline. Some feared that the Obama administration had already privately decided to kill the Keystone project, and in an effort to placate a sure-to-be-incensed oil industry, proposed gutting biofuels as a consolation prize for Big Oil. But the administration recently put the pipeline on hold indefinitely, and the EPA is still gunning for biofuels.
Now the oil industry is claiming that a component of the licensing of the fuels, called a Renewable Identification Number (RIN), has become too expensive, and that's the reason the standards must be gutted. Industry advocates say the RIN argument is a red herring, and that Big Oil simply doesn't like the competition from more climate-friendly fuel alternatives like ethanol blends or biodiesel. And of course, the oil industry hated biofuels long before RINs became the latest flavor of the month."
Of course, in Washington, following the money is always a sound principle for explaining repetition of failed policy.
According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), there may be something of a "Dick Cheney secret energy angle here," as CREW is requesting an investigation into "improper industry influence" on this decision.
That's a nice way of saying the Big Corporate honchos caused something other than the public interest to prevail. As the head of CREW, Melanie Sloan shared this statement on the subject: "Given that the agency's decision to lower renewable fuel standards is an unprecedented break from past practices, the public has a right to know whether this decision was based on policy or politics. The EPA inspector general should immediately investigate."
Of course, as I'm sure you'll be shocked (shocked!) to know, a simple search of the federal register yields who actively lobbied the EPA to gut the RFS -- wait for it, wait for it -- The American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). You may have heard of them and what they do?
Of course we are also talking about one of the potential influencers being The Carlyle Group, who has operated as a landing place for the Bush Family (still rearing their ugly heads! Hi Jeb!) and helped nurture and further the careers of American sweethearts like Dan Señor, former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq under The Bush Administration (heckuva job, Danny!) whose wife, former reporter and TV personality Campbell Brown, can't stop shilling for the corporate charter school lobby long enough to talk about virtually anything else. The rest of the Cheney Gang there is like a who's who of every nightmare Ron Paul has ever had, from James Baker III, former Secretary of State, to Anand Panyarachun, former Prime Minister of Thailand, John Major, former Prime Minister of England, Olivier Sarkozy, half-brother of the former President of France, and many others. Even some bin Ladens!
You definitely want these guys making energy policy. It would totally benefit the masses.
And then there are the current crop of Tea-soaked, right-wing loons who have gotten into the act, especially once that Koch Bros Big Oil check arrives. Like The-Santa-Barbara-Massacre-was-"unfortunate," hog-castrating, Susan-B.-Anthony-List-hero-for-being-anti-choice, Joni Ernst, who is the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Iowa. Even though her state has 18 biodiesel plants, she is still willing to oppose the industry -- as explicit an example of what Big Oil money can buy if there ever was one.
Let's not make the same mistakes again. Certainly let's not make them because of the Halliburtonesque wealth hoarders who despoil our planet and pollute our politics. Let's take a different path this time towards a clean-energy future. Let's let the EPA know that gutting the RFS is simply not acceptable.
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