Pombo keeps pumping out the rhetoric about "energy independence" and getting off "foreign oil". His push is for "independence" from foreign oil, not from oil itself. This is an important distinction. His policies promote the continued inefficient use of oil, with the preference that it be American oil we are wasting. Pombo seeks to develop as many American sources of petroleum as possible, the environment, conservation, efficient-use, alternatives, and social issues be damned.
For instance, Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-NY, offered an amendment to Pombo's bill to drill for offshore oil that tied it to increasing fuel efficiency of vehicles. This amendment was shot down and never made it into the final bill. Pombo is just not interested in more efficient use of oil, and has voted against every attempt to increase fuel efficiency in cars and trucks. What kind of insanity is it to push hard to drill for every drop of oil, but not to seek to use that oil efficiently? How hollow his rhetoric about "security" and "independence" sound when his only concern is drill, drill, drill.
Pombo is taking an incredibly foolhardy and dangerous approach. Not only do fossil fuels contribute to global warming (which Pombo blithely ignores), oil production is a messy and toxic enterprise. Pombo puts out the oil industry propaganda about the safety of new drilling techniques, etc., which sounds amazingly similar to what they said about the Alaskan oil industry just before the Exxon Valdez. Pombo talks about using "only 2,000 acres" in the Arctic Nat'l Wildlife Refuge, but a closer look shows that figure is grossly and deceptively underestimated. For example, the estimate only counts where an oil platform actually touches the ground, similar to claiming that a 6' x 6' table only takes up the space where its legs touch the floor. That turns a 36 sq. ft table into 0.11 sq. ft. These are the kinds of twisted figures that come from Pombo and the pro-industry, propaganda-spewing Resources Committee under his guidance.
Pombo's "energy independence" is also not a realistic goal. See this article from USA Today, for example. The whole article is worth reading, as it has production and consumption charts, and also discusses the kinds of realistic solutions that politicians carefully avoid mentioning. This was written during the 2004 presidential campaign:
Energy independence may be a pipe dream
By Tom Kenworthy, USA TODAY, Posted 10/24/2004
The presidential candidates are touting their plans to reduce the USA's reliance on foreign energy sources. Are the campaign promises simply running on empty?
Simply put, many energy executives don't believe America can free itself from dependence on foreign oil.
"We do not have the resource base to be energy independent," Exxon Mobil Corp. chairman Lee Raymond said in a recent speech. "We simply cannot avoid significant reliance on oil and gas from the Middle East."
Someone forgot to tell that to President Bush and John Kerry.
As have legions of politicians before them, both Bush and Kerry are holding out the promise of loosening the grip that foreign oil producers have on the USA. Kerry talks of independence, Bush talks of more domestic reliance.
"Together, we'll make an America that is energy independent," Kerry said last spring in Seattle.
And Bush, earlier this month in Columbus, Ohio, sang a similar tune: "To make sure our economy remains strong and people can find work in America, we must become less dependent on foreign sources of energy."
Energy experts dismiss such talk as little more than empty campaign promises that are not backed up with tough policy changes needed to make a significant difference.
"You need to understand that when they discuss energy independence it's a rhetorical gimmick," says Paul Roberts, the author of the book The End of Oil.
"It sounds good, but the truth is there is no such thing as energy independence for a country that uses as much oil as we do in the United States," Roberts adds. "They've been saying it since Nixon's time. You have to say it. It's like mom and apple pie."
That phrase "rhetorical gimmick" pretty much explains Pombo. His talk of "energy independence" is politically expedient, but completely hollow. It may sound good to his supporters, who somehow think the goal of using "American-only oil" in the vast quantities we do (21 million barrels per day) is both attainable and desirable. But Pombo's talk also satisfies another clientele of his, the large pool of oil and energy industry campaign contributers, who hold fundraisers for their loyal and reliable shill in Congress. They like a return for their money, and they don't get it from "conservation" and "efficiency" -- they get it from Pombo's bills that reward them with new drilling territory, concessions, subsidies, reduced or eliminated environmental review, and little public oversight.
Those companies sure know where to invest their dollars!