Panhandle (W.Va.) Grassroots for Democracy

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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Byrd Slams Bush Energy Policy

At at time when rural West Virginians are disproportionately bearing the brunt of soaring gas prices, President Bush is promoting a "do-nothing policy" to address this crisis, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) said in an April 11 speech on the Senate floor.

With his trademark eloquence and concern for the impact of governmental policies on average working West Virginians, Byrd said the Republican energy bill "has proven to be another in a long line of efforts to codify backroom bargaining and underwrite the Administration's corporate contributors."

Consumers take the hit
The Bush energy plan offers diminished investment in conservation and alternative fuel sources, and would have a "negligible impact on increasing production, reducing consumption, lowering imports, or affecting energy prices," Byrd said.

Low-income West Virginians are being hit the hardest by gas prices, as they usually have to travel the farthest to work because of the need for affordable housing, they have less access to mass transportation, and they drive older, less fuel efficient vehicles," Byrd said. "Whatever tax breaks workers in West Virginia received from the Bush Administration are being drained away at the gas pump in one way or another."

Special interests take the win
Byrd put responsibility for the ongoing crisis squarely on the shoulders of a president and administration indifferent to the needs of working West Virginians, and in league with oil giants. Bush's energy plan "has been drafted by special interests, ironed out behind closed doors," he said. Proponents have "chosen to exploit the misery created by the gasoline crisis to renew their push for this partisan energy bill crafted by the energy conglomerates," Byrd said.

Meaningful relief
Byrd called for greater investment in initiatives to reduce dependence on foreign oil, including:
--Suspension of oil deliveries to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve until market conditions improve;
--$15.5 billion in tax incentives over 10 years for investment in advanced energy technologies, alternative fuel sources, and next-generation vehicles;
--Investigations into why West Virginias are being gouged on gas prices at a time when oil companies enjoy record profits.

Read the entire speech at: http://byrd.senate.gov/byrd_speeches. Go to April 11, 2005.

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