Energy Bill: More Than Enough to Go Around
N class=body>Democrats in the Senate, particularly shaken by a provision in the comprehensive energy bill that would give manufacturers of a gasoline additive protection from lawsuits over groundwater contamination, threatened to filibuster this week to block a vote.
But pork has a way to feed high-profile defections from well-placed protest. And it did again on Wednesday, when Sen. Tom Daschle, Democratic leader in the Senate and otherwise one of the most outspoken critics of White House folks behind this bill, said he could overlook his concerns on MTBE contamination to vote for a bill that offers such hefty subsidies for ethanol production. Ethanol is derived from corn, an important staple in South Dakota, where Daschle faces re-election next fall.
Daschle isn't the only one enticed by giveaways in the first extensive energy bill since 1992. It's legislation clearly bent on spreading enough tax breaks and big-business incentives over 10 years to grease it through Congress.
Tripped up for two years over whether or not to allow drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the White House stripped that no-win idea from the package to preserve the thick incentives left for friends in the oil, gas and coal business, including speedier permitting processes and eased environmental controls.
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