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October 27, 2006

Dave Reichert Opposes Reducing the Nation's Dependence on Foreign Oil

Over the last two weeks, a DailyKos diarist, FranklySpeaking has been researching, writing and posting a series on the votes of Dave Reichert.  He has graciously agreed to have us re-post these on Evergreen Politics over the next week.  Here is the first:

In the past, Members of Congress have been able to serve their entire congressional career and never have the opportunity to cast a vote on reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil.  Major energy legislation has been considered maybe once a decade if that.

Dave Reichert is serving only his first term in Congress.  But in 2005, he got his chance to take a stand on the nation's energy future.  In April 2005, Congress debated and ultimately passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005.  This was the Bush energy plan -- a pork barrel give away to the biggest energy companies -- that took no meaningful action on our country's biggest problems, dependence on foreign oil and global warming.  Reichert voted for it.

Congress considered amendments to begin weaning the nation off of oil.  Unfortunately, Dave Reichert opposed them all.  Read on for the story of hypocrisy and how energy policy went wrong in 2005.

On July 29, 2006, Reichert put out a press release on the importance of increasing the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks:

Another piece of the solution is increased CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards. I'm supportive of efforts made by Science Committee Chairman Boehlert to reduce demand for oil from light-duty vehicles, which account for 40% of U.S. oil consumption. Boehlert's effort would direct the administration to save consumers money and cut projected oil demands from cars, SUVs, minivans and pickups by 10% starting in 2018. Initiatives such as this aren't the solution by themselves, but each is a portion of a larger plan to reduce our dependence on oil and to reduce the high cost of energy.

What Reichert doesn't say is that when the House debated the energy bill in 2005, Boehlert offered his proposal as an amendment on the House floor.  Reichert voted against it.  When he had his chance, he voted against it.  As the election approaches, he changes his tune and says he is a strong supporter of it. 

Reichert's hypocrisy would be funny if the consequences weren't so dire.  The energy bill Reichert backed became law over a year ago and our need for foreign oil is only going up.  The Bush Administration says we import 10 million barrels of crude per day now and the imports will only grow and grow.  In a couple decades we'll need 13 and ½ million barrels of imported oil every single day!

Here's another energy bill amendment that was debated on the House floor.

AMENDMENT DESCRIPTION:  Amendment sought to require appropriate Federal departments and agencies, as identified by the President, to propose voluntary, regulatory, and other actions sufficient to reduce demand for oil in the United States by at least 1.0 million barrels per day from the projected demand for oil in 2013.

Again, Reichert opposed the amendment.  Makes you wonder why he thinks increasing demand for oil is such a good idea.

To give you a sense of how out of the mainstream Reichert is on this issue, consider that the Senate passed a similar amendment and even the Republicans touted the "fuel-savings provision requiring the federal government devise a plan to save 1 million barrels of oil a day."

In fact, they didn't even bother to have a vote on the amendment in 2005, because in 2003, Sens. Landrieu and Specter offered the amendment and it passed 99-1.  That's right.  From crazy Republicans like Sen. Inhofe to liberals like Sen. Boxer, the amendment was broadly supported.  Arlen Specter even put out a press release on the amendment:

It is a first step, but it is very important for the United States that we reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Simply stated, we use too much foreign oil. We are dependent upon the OPEC countries, especially Saudi Arabia, and it influences our foreign policy in ways which may well be undesirable.

Why would Reichert oppose such a broadly supported and common-sense amendment to reduce the nation's demand for oil?  Could it be because Bush told the House Republicans to kill it?

After the Senate passed the energy bill, the White House weighed in:

the Administration strongly opposes the bill's requirement that the President implement measures to reduce U.S. petroleum demand by one-million barrels per day.

Sen. Cantwell and other Senators called on the House-Senate conferees to keep the Senate's oil savings provision in the bill when they worked out the differences between the House and Senate bills.  But with the White House and the Rubberstamp Republican House against them, the provision was dropped from the final bill.  The environmentalists tell us what happened:

"During the conference, the Senate lost almost all of its green provisions, including the renewable electricity standard, oil savings amendment and the real global warming provision," said Curtis [of the National Environmental Trust].

Reichert needs to explain his hypocrisy.  Why does he oppose reducing the nation's dependence on oil?  Why did he vote against trying to help the problem?  Was it because of President Bush or does he have another reason for wanting our nation's dependence on oil to grow and grow?

Posted by Lynn Allen on October 27, 2006 at 10:17 AM in Candidate Races, National and International Politics | Permalink

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