Last Wednesday, local blogger Aubrey Shepherd noted that the National Wildlife Federation supported the 2007 Energy Bill and implied that we should, too. On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the comprehensive energy bill by a vote of 235-181. The bill promotes renewable energy sources by repealing $13.5 billion in tax breaks for the five biggest U.S. oil companies and uses the money for tax incentives for development of like ethanol from grasses and wood chips, for biodiesel, and for energy efficiency programs and conservation. It also included the first increase in federal automobile fuel efficiency requirements in three decades to an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020.
Arkansas's three Democratic Congressmen -- Marion Berry, Vic Snyder, and Mike Ross -- voted for the energy bill. Only our local Republican John Boozman voted against renewable energy, against higher vehicle fuel efficiency, and for letting the big oil companies keep $13.5 billion in tax breaks. Big Business Boozman cited lobbyists for the big electric utility corporations Entergy and American Electric Power to justify his vote, claiming they told him that Arkansas utilities are incapable of meeting the 15% Renewable Electricity Standard by 2020 and that their failure would be an excuse to raise electric rates for Arkansas customers. Funny that Boozman was the only Arkansas Congressman to buy that phony line and vote with the big utility lobbyists against a sustainable energy future.
Even more amusing is Boozman's admission that he wasn't paying attention or following the bill in committee and "that we were asked to vote on a 1,055-page piece legislation which affects millions of Americans, while only having a matter of hours to read it beforehand.” That didn't seem to bother him when he voted for the Patriot Act to reduce the constitutional liberties of American citizens without reading it.