July 2, 2008

The Saving Energy Bill ... who isn't for that?
And who's against oil price gouging...

In this day of $4 gasoline (Someday all-too-soon, we'll look back on these parlous times as the good ol' days of cheap fuel.), who could oppose saving energy through public transportation?

Let's get Congress to pass a bill called the "Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act of 2008."

The findings of said bill could have such neat bullet points as:
-- In 2007, people in the U.S. took more than 10.3 billion trips using public transportation, the highest level in 50 years.

--Public transportation use saves fuel, reduces emissions and saves money...

--The direct petroleum savings attributable to public transportation use is 1.4 billion gallons per year (and when secondary effects are taken into account... more than 11 million gallons of gasoline per day)...

--Households that use public transportation save an average of $6,251 every year.
And so on.

Why, such a bill could include grants to improve public transportation in urban areas, say $750 million in 2008 and 2009; and another $100 million a year for non-urban areas.

The money could be used to reduce bus fares, acquire clean fuel equipment, expand commuter services, expand public transportation or maintain intercity service.

There's even a provision to establish up to five vanpool pilot programs -- whatever thy are.

And "Increased federal share for end-of-line fixed guideway stations," which is reimbursement for purchase and construction of park-and-ride lots serving "a commuter bus route that is more than 20 miles in length." (My favorite provision is in this section: The grant, it says, "shall be for 100 percent of the net capital cost of the project unless the grant recipient requests a lower grant percentage." Oh, yeah; I bet that happens often!)

The bill, according to its author, Rep. James Oberstar, D-MN, "provides much needed support to states and public transportation agencies and also increases incentives for commuters to choose transit options, thereby reducing their transportation-related energy consumption and our nation’s reliance on foreign oil."

Further explanations of what the bill would accomplish are HERE, written by Oberstar and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon.

And so on and so forth. Who could be opposed to such a bill? Not many. The House passed HR 6052 last Friday (read it HERE) and sent it on to the Senate. The vote was 322 to 98, and somewhat bi-partisan with 231 Democrats in favor, none opposed; and 91 Republicans in favor, 98 opposed. (Roll call HERE.)

Paul Ryan voted no.

No word from Ryan on why he opposed the bill -- although I would bet its $1.7 billion price tag had a lot to do with it.

But wait, there's more!

Last week, the House dealt with another apple-pie-and-baseball-titled bill, the "Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act." Actually, the full title is even better: A bill to protect consumers from price-gouging of gasoline and other fuels, and for other purposes. Full text HERE.

Who could be against that, you ask?

Not to put too fine a point on it, the bill prohibits anyone from selling gasoline during a presidentially-declared energy emergency "at a price that is... unconscionably excessive; and... taking unfair advantage of the circumstances related to an energy emergency to increase prices unreasonably."

You'd be for that, right? Well, Ryan wasn't. The measure received 276 yeas (225 Democrats and 51 Republicans) and 146 nos (1 Democrat and 145 Republicans) -- not enough yeas for the necessary two-thirds majority. Roll call HERE.


  1. Are you implying that Ryan should have voted for the Price Gouging bill?

    Should the same pricing standards be applied to all goods & sevices?

    What malady or discomfort should the FEDERAL government not solve for each of us?

    What would be the name of the bill designed to keep us all from becoming sheep?

  2. Please think about changing the name of the Racine Post to:
    We really hate Paul Ryan

  3. Doesn't really fit into a masthead.

    But the real questions are: Why would anyone vote in favor of price gouging? Why not support mass transit?

  4. After what 7 government investigations there is yet to have proof of gouging.
    I would agree that Public Transport like BUS needs to be supported but not black holes like KRM.
    Gee how about asking Mayor Becker why he will not restart the BUS line to the Business parks on I-94?
    How about asking the Mayor why BUS will not at least look at using Bio-diesel (like a B-10) in the city diesel fleet?
    Want to spend 100's of millions of dollars? How about Coal to gas programs or investing in drilling projects
    Drill Here Drill NOW!

  5. So Pete, how often do you take mass transit?

    what exactly is price gouging? It is obvious that you don't believe in letting the market decide what the price should be. How come you don't feel that government's high taxes are gouging? americans aren't willing to cut back on energy use so we should have our government plunder the oil companies?
    It all sounds so very good.

  6. Info: I grew up in New York City, riding the subway alone when I was six (cost a dime then). I now (mostly) drive a Vespa that gets about 60 mpg. How about you?

    The question here is "gouging," a loaded term but still pretty clearly something to be avoided. The U.S. gave up the fantasy of a wide-open, buyer-beware market economy long ago (FDA, FTC, SEC, etc.). Read the bill: it would have gone into effect only after a president declared an energy emergency.

  7. But Pete if you drive at all when you can take the bus why are you?
    Why do you believe you can or should drive and have others to take a poor bus system?
    As well Pete do you not think it is about time to end the min mark up law?
    Or since the DNR now thinks that reformatated gas is not doing any good to end that? Where is your call for action?
    Or is your only thought to slam Paul Ryan (That would be something I would expect from the Journal Times not the Post)

  8. Anon, stay on topic: Why is it a "slam" to report a Congressman's vote?

  9. The slam Pete is the number of anti-Ryan stories. I have yet to read anything about his backing of the Drill Here Drill now idea or his backing of renewable energy programs.
    I read this whole story as an Anti Ryan story not something on what he is doing to bring more energy to this county

  10. "--Public transportation use saves fuel, reduces emissions and saves money..."

    So just how much fuel and money has Racine's bus service saved?

    "I now (mostly) drive a Vespa"

    Pete votes NO to the bus

  11. Pete has never seen an ill that a new law or tax can't fix.
    Hooray for the special interests of each of us.

  12. Pete, no doubt you are a fan of the No Child Left Behind legislation. Suggested reading: 1984.

  13. Winter Witch7/03/2008 1:33 PM

    Someone has to hold Ryan accountable, it sure as hell isn't going to be the Racine Journal. I don't know of a good reporter who can really stick a story. Rob Golub was a good one though.

    Ryan can vote the way he wants to and really doesn't expect any flack from his constituents. Personally, I don't like being pushed around by Ryan with bills that he should have voted YES on.

    Ryan needs to be accountable. If you want to call if slamming, your choice of words. Ryan isn't a demigod in his district and shouldn't be treated as one.

  14. Yes we should hold Ryan accountable
    for pushing the Drill Here Drill now idea and his support for renewable energy like Wind power.
    Good Going Rep Ryan!

  15. Drill Here, Drill Now isn't the best plan that has been laid out and we need to know alot more about that plan before it gets crammed down our throats.