Thursday, April 07, 2005

Sense and Nonsense

A couple of proposals came up for votes in the House yesterday that could actually, no shit, fall into the category of "conducting the people's business". Yeah, I know, I'm shocked, too. Apparently they still do that kind of thing in congress on occasion.

News item: Lawmakers Want Daylight-Saving Time Change

The first proposal that passed made some sense: extend daylight savings time a month on both ends of the calendar:

...The panel agreed in a voice vote to move the start of daylight-saving time in the United States -- which occurs when clocks are turned forward by one hour -- one month earlier to the first Sunday in March. The end of daylight time would be moved back one month to the last Sunday in November.

Supporters of the amendment, sponsored by Michigan Republican Fred Upton, said it would save about 10,000 barrels of oil a day because offices and stores would be open while it was still light outside and therefore use less energy.

Interesting. Back during the Nixon administration, and Energy Crisis I - America Held Hostage (by our "good Saudi friends"), congress implemented an emergency act that stuck the U.S. on daylight saving time for a full 15 months. Study after study has shown that DST, particularly in the winter months, is a good energy savings tool.

Rep. Waxman (D-Ca) also offered an amendment that would have required shaving oil consumption by 1 million barrels per day by 2013. Of course, the GOP was quick to jump in and nix this provision:

...The committee voted down, 39 to 12, a separate amendment to require the federal government to find a way to cut U.S. oil demand by 1 million barrels a day by 2013. The amendment offered by Democrat Henry Waxman of California aimed to reduce imports of crude oil.

Lawmakers with automakers in their districts led the fight to defeat Waxman's proposal, arguing it was backdoor way to require U.S. mini-vans, sport utility vehicles and pick-up trucks to improve their fuel efficiency...

It's nonsense that a token reduction (which is what a million barrels per day represents) is going to spell the end of the U.S. auto industry. What the government needs to be doing is strengthening fuel efficiency standards - and incentivize the auto industry to actually do something more than "window dressing" their efforts to improve fleet mileage.

I was thinking driving into work this morning: Americans have never been asked to actually sacrifice anything in support of the War on Terror™. Not one thing. Shop, shop, shop. Consume, consume, consume. What Waxman's amendment proposed was not pain for consumers - it was pain for business. If it was pain for consumers, the GOP might have gone along with it.

Apparently, the GOP is still sticking to the early 20th century thought that "what's good for GM is good for America".