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House of Representatives Defends Big Government Spending On Fossil Fuels

Yesterday saw the passage of H.R. 2609, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 2014. This legislation, passed annually, is a cash cow for connected corporations in the fossil fuels industry. These companies like to complain about government regulations that would limit the pollution that comes from burning oil, gas, and coal, but they love the money that the federal government pays out to them to help them boost their profits and rip more fossil fuels out of the ground. These dirty energy corporations send out lobbyists to write checks to members of Congress, and then members of Congress develop programs for sending even more money back to the corporations. It’s a very cozy, very corrupt arrangement.

This year, U.S. Representative Jackie Speier decided to stand up this nasty arrangement. She introduced an amendment to H.R. 2609 that would have saved money by taking 30 million dollars in extra government payments to oil, gas, and coal corporations.

u.s. capitol buildingSpeaking before her colleagues as she introduced her amendment, Speier said, “Do we suddenly have extra money lying around, because I’m trying to figure out why we are so committed to wasting it. Budget challenges are forcing us to reexamine our investments. Adding $30 million beyond the President’s request to support fossil fuel research is a foolish waste of taxpayer dollars that are better used to invest in the future and paying off our deficit. We simply cannot afford to spend taxpayer dollars on research the private sector can do better, and taxpayers should not be asked to provide additional support to an industry that consistently has record-breaking profits.

Our energy sector has some of the most promising ideas and technologies in the world. Our energy policy, however, is horribly outdated. H.R. 2609 slashes research and development for renewable energy by some 60 percent and adds additional money that the administration neither wants nor needs to research fossil fuels…

My amendment reduces our reliance on ‘old energy.’ The amendment simply strikes $30 million in R&D from fossil fuels and commits it to deficit reduction, what we’ve all been clambering for, and maintains the President’s requested level of funding for this research.

Our biggest innovators succeed because they are forward thinking. Our energy policy needs to do the same. We need to stop funding the past at the expense of the future. It is the fiscally responsible thing to do.”

Not surprisingly, the House of Representatives voted to defeat the Speier amendment, with 174 in favor, and 250 against. What wasn’t so predictable is that 99 members of the House crossed the aisle, voting against their own political party’s majority position on the amendment.

The good news is that 38 Republicans were decent enough to vote for the bill. The bad news is that 61 Democrats couldn’t resist the call of money from Big Oil, and helped the Republican leadership to shoot the amendment down. The vote was 38 Republicans and 136 Democrats in favor, and 189 Republicans and 61 Democrats in opposition. Look to see how your U.S. Representative voted in the Library of Congress roll call record.

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