Once again I have a lot of little items that deserve a little bit of comment, so here goes.
Delegate Pat McDonough is at it again. The 2012 Congressional candidate has prefiled a bill called the Toll Fairness Act. It has three goals:
- Declare a moratorium on all toll increases.
- Mandate a General Assembly vote and Governor’s signature on all toll increases, for accountability.
- Prohibit transfers to non-transportation accounts. Delegate McDonough claims almost $800 million has been “stolen” from transportation accounts over the last eight years.
While it’s doubtful such a bill will muster the votes to get out of the Democratic-controlled committee it will be assigned to, the fact that we have this measure prefiled shows that people can be good and angry about the situation. We will see on July 14, when a hearing on the toll increases will be held in Ocean City.
Speaking of the peoples’ voice, the petition drive to overturn SB167 through referendum may well be successful. But CASA de Maryland was granted a request to make copies of the petitions; a move Delegate Michael Smigiel of the Upper Shore found shocking.
Delegate Smigiel made a point which I wanted to amplify. It’s bad enough that a group who’s dead-set against the referendum will be allowed to take possession of these petitions, if only for a brief time. Luckily the potential for mischief is lessened since that cat was let out of the bag.
But I think back to the controversy over Proposition 8 in California (to overturn same-sex marriage) and what happened to those who contributed to that effort financially – a number of them were harassed by pro-gay marriage supporters, with threats to both boycott their businesses and harm them physically. Could pro-illegal groups and supporters use the petition information to do the same in Maryland? They’re playing for keeps; unfortunately for them a goodly number of people about these parts are armed and don’t much like harassment. Hopefully the folks at the ACLU and CASA de Maryland will keep this in mind.
Meanwhile, those who support the petition and wish to make sure the count is done fairly aren’t allowed into the process. A Board of Elections worth its salt would tell the state to go pound sand on that (since it’s simply a policy memorandum and not law.)
And that’s not all from the state of Maryland. Richard Falknor at Blue Ridge Forum discusses the new “green” graduation requirement. There’s no time for teaching critical thinking or even the three R’s, but they have time to push that “smart growth” bullshit on our kids? Since the requirement appears to be only in public schools (for now) I guess I don’t have to deprogram my girlfriend’s daughter – yet – since she attends a private school.
I also learned a new word regarding this new environmentalism. In a press release from the Competitive Enterprise Institute announcing the formation of the Resourceful Earth website, a quote from Myron Ebell, the Director of CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment, caught my eye. Said Ebell, “unfortunately, many major corporations are being greenmailed into supporting these assaults on jobs and prosperity.” ‘Greenmailed,’ indeed. Do you think oil companies really want to spend millions to deal with environmental groups advocating for polar bears or caribou rather than job creation and maintaining our lifestyle? They probably add a nickel per gallon to the price.
Still, pump prices have been on the decline of late. That fact makes the timing of the decision to draw 30 million barrels down from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve very curious. Granted, there will still be nearly 700 million barrels remaining in our coffers, but there was no emergency situation to merit the release. Strife in Libya is no worse than unrest in Nigeria, another major oil-producing nation, back in 2009.
Reaction has been severe from some quarters, and seems to be the correct perception of the situation. Americans for Limited Government, for example, claims savings will be meager and short-lived:
If one is generous and assumes yesterday’s $4 drop was solely because of Obama and International Energy Agency, at best it will save consumers $.10 a gallon for gasoline. That works out to about $1.50 per fill up, or $6 for the month the additional gasoline is available.
In other words, Obama has jeopardized national security by drawing down the strategic reserves to, at best, save consumers about $1.50 per fill up when this ‘flood’ of new gasoline hits the market. To call this irresponsible would be an understatement.
And the real experts at the American Petroleum Institute were equally underwhelmed:
The release makes little sense for American markets. Crude and gasoline inventories are above average, and crude and gasoline prices have been trending down for weeks, despite the loss of Libyan oil, which markets have already adjusted to. The SPR was intended to be used for supply emergencies. There is no supply emergency. We don’t know what impacts this might have on markets long term. But we could and should be taking steps that would increase our own production by 2 million barrels a day or more for decades, which is possible if the government would grant much greater access to America’s ample oil and natural gas reserves. This would do vastly more to help consumers, increase energy security, create jobs and deliver more revenue to our government. It’s action that would truly strengthen our energy future, not a temporary gesture that has no lasting benefits.
30 million barrels is about what our nation consumes in a day-and-a-half. 60 million barrels (the total IEA release) is well under what the world consumes in a day.
Here’s the problem I see with this release. We have a President who doesn’t mind $4 per gallon gasoline, as long as the increase is relatively steady. He also has backtracked from allowing additional oil exploration thanks to a rare but ill-timed drilling accident in the Gulf of Mexico.
If you assume the oil which was placed in the SPR was purchased at a relatively low market price, well, we have to make that up sometime. And if you believe their line about supplies tightening up thanks to a civil war in Libya it would be my guess that oil will be more expensive. We just added 60 million barrels to future worldwide demand, and that will likely drive prices up a little bit.
In short, this is a shell game (no pun intended) to make people believe we’re doing something about a problem better solved with more oil extraction. For example, approving one pipeline would eventually make up for about half of what the world normally gets from Libya on a daily basis. Needless to say, I don’t buy the ‘peak oil’ theory. (Thanks to Jane Van Ryan of API for the pipeline info.)
And one final item. Over the last few weeks I had a PSA for the Move America Forward Troopathon which was broadcast over the internet last Thursday. They now have their tally in and were pleased to report they raised $507,843 from their efforts – exceeding their $500,000 goal.
It wasn’t as much as previous Troopathons raised, but then again we have fewer troops in that theater. Considering that being pro-military isn’t as much in vogue as it used to be I think that total is pretty good and reflects a nation that remains in a giving mood for our men in uniform.
Wow, that did a nice job of cleaning out my e-mail box. Look for more interesting stuff to come.