Tuesday, May 24, 2011

EPA administrator testifies before House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

I paid $3.38 a gallon today filling up my Ford Ranger. After a twenty cents per gallon savings from shopping at Kroger, my full tank cost me about $45. I was glad that I don’t drive much and my truck is pretty fuel efficient comparing to some of the gas-guzzlers out there. Lauren and I calculated some people we know may be spending just under a thousand dollars a month to fill up. We are glad we only pay about a fraction of that, but $45 still hurts the wallet these days.

But buying less oil is even better!

EPA administrator opened her prepared statement to the House and Govt. Reform Committee today with the topic of rising price of gas:

“. . . America cannot prevent gasoline and diesel prices from rising. Still, all else being equal, buying a barrel of American oil is better than buying a barrel of foreign oil.”

Brain, why is global destruction so difficult?

Ms. Jackson goes on to defend a air pollutant emission permit requirement for the drilling operations in Alaska. I guess the industry have been complaining that these silly environmental safeguards are government red-tapes, impeding economic progress and our path to energy independence.  I, for one, am in favorite of less government regulation. But I wonder if we turn a blind eye to these permit requirements, will our gas prices actually go back to $2 per gallon? or will it just line the pockets of a few "poor" oil companies and we are stuck with rising gas prices and inefficient cars and business operations? 

In her defense to the air pollutant emission permits, Ms. Jackson noted the amount of air pollutant emitted from a single one of these drilling operations can match the emissions of a large oil refinery. Just because most of us don't live in Alaska, it doesn't mean we shouldn't care about the air quality in Alaska.  I applaud her statements.

But then I was a bit disappointed by what she had to add. Being the careful politician that she is, Ms. Jackson also hailed “fracking” advances in technology to increase our natural gas resources. Is this a give to the tugs from the industry? Is she trading safe water for clean air? Is this the way politics are played?

I forgive her Washington sliminess because I know the EPA will make sure our corporate interests frack responsibly.


Ms. Jackson:
“The price we pay for natural gas is not set on a global market the way the price of oil is, and burning natural gas creates less air pollution than burning other fossil fuels. So increasing America’s natural gas production is a good thing.”

After all, if Congress has asked the EPA to “study the relationship between fracking and drinking water” we can be sure our water is safe to drink post-fracking . . .


“We are doing that, with input from technical experts, the public, and industry.”

That’s what she said . . .

In the meantime, EPA promises to protect local residents if a driller jeopardizes clean water and the state government does not act. I wonder what kind of things is the EPA prepared to do, how much will the industry attempt to pay their way through.

All that worrying aside, I am glad to hear Ms. Jackson address the fuel efficiency standards for new cars at the end of her statement. I’m an optimist, so that gives me the right to hope and believe we can do a lot better than ten miles per gallon, or thirty, or even fifty; I think sixty miles per gallon is the goal. I hope more people drive more sensible cars, drive less; and I hope the industry will create that market for us with a little bit of red-tape of mandates from Congress. I guess this is one area I hope for a bit more federal intervention, glad the EPA is standing firm on this issue.    

Thank you Madam Administrator, for setting your conscience clear.

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