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Here still survives one of Planet Earth’s own works of art. This one symbolizes freedom: freedom to continue, unhindered and forever if we are willing, the particular story of Planet Earth unfolding here.” – Lowell Sumner (pioneering NPS biologist)

Arctic
Russia and other Arctic nations are seeking vast commercialization of Arctic oil and gas resources, as well as quicker freight shipping via the Northern Sea Route. In Bellona’s opinion, these efforts threaten to obliterate one of the world’s last pure ecosystems
.” http://bellona.org/work-areas/arctic

In a free market society, too much of anything makes the value go down. Thus, have we been wondering for years why the push to keep on drilling and endangering the environment? One may be that while they are buying the crude for next to nothing that they are still making profits after refining. They are also making money with equipment. Some nefarious activities for which drilling might be a cover include the illegal disposal of nuclear and other hazardous waste; money laundering and possibly a cover for drug transactions and transhipments. And none of the possibilities are mutually exclusive – all may be true.

However, the most likely possibility is that they are trying to form an oil and gas cartel among the largest producing countries – US-Russia-Saudi Arabia and a few more to control prices. If so, everyone may see their fossil fuel bills double: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2017/12/15/does-the-flynn-middle-east-nuclear-reactor-deal-include-a-plot-for-a-new-oil-cartel-to-double-the-price-of-oil. When this was done in the 1970s, it led to a push for renewables and efficiency. However, renewables are making good progress right now, so time to move ahead rather than continuing to damage the earth by looking backwards. A less famous cartel was the uranium cartel spear-headed by Justin Trudeau’s father – also Canadian Prime Minister.

(This rule of too much of anything makes the value go down, by the way, is one reason why the powers that be don’t want to control population growth, including immigration – not only is it more votes for them, and more consumers, but the value of labor declines and wages drop. The value of life itself drops, though no one wants to admit it. It also creates shortages of resources which then must be divided in some way – higher prices; bribery-corruption; or favoring one group over others. )

64% of Americans oppose this tax bill: See p. 52: http://harvardharrispoll.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Final-HHP-December_Registered-Voters_Topline-Memo.pdf

But, the US Congress Republicans don’t care what the people think – they’re bought and sold for Exxon and Russian oil, such a parcel of rogues…

[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 204 (Thursday, December 14, 2017)]
[Pages S8039-S8040]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

CLIMATE CHANGE

Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I am here for my 189th “Time to Wake
Up” speech to discuss the Republican tax bill. Who knew? Folks
watching today’s debate from home are probably wondering what the tax
bill has to do with climate change. That is a good question. They might
also ask, as I do, why the tax bill includes massive giveaways to
fossil fuel producers or what opening up precious wilderness to oil
drilling has to do with tax reform.

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee said: “We need a
simpler tax code that puts more money back into the pockets of workers
and families.” Republicans, he said, want to create “a fairer, more
predictable system for taxpayers across the country.”

Their tax plan is none of those things. Its benefits are weighted
heavily to big corporations, not workers and families. The corporate
tax cuts are permanent, while the modest breaks for some workers
disappear after a few years. What is fair or predictable about that?

The chairman also said:

I want a bipartisan process that renders a bipartisan
result. . . . I think we need a vigorous and open debate in
the Senate, which, in my view, should include a full process
in committee and regular order on the Senate floor.

We got none of that. Republicans have rammed this bill through, using
every procedural and parliamentary trick at their disposal, as a purely
partisan measure, in the dead of night, producing amendments in
handwritten chicken scratch in the margins of the bill at the last
minute.

If we were to ask middle-class families their top priorities for
fixing our tax system, I don’t think very many would say: You know, we
really need to let oil companies pump crude in an Alaskan wildlife
refuge. But that is what they do.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1960 to
preserve “unique wildlife, wilderness, and recreational values.” It
now encompasses almost 20 million acres, with around 8-million acres
designated as wilderness. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages
the refuge, which is roadless, trailless, and represents the best of
wild Alaska in a world where wilderness is increasingly scarce and
vanishing far too fast.

The Republican tax bill opens the refuge’s 1.5 million-acre coastal
plain to the oil drillers. Opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
to oil and gas development does little to provide energy security
. The
oil-producing potential of the area is estimated by the U.S. Geological
Survey to be, at a maximum, around 12 billion barrels total of
recoverable oil. In 2016, the United States consumed 7.2 billion
barrels of petroleum products just in that year. So all of the oil we
get from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which will take decades,
represents fewer than 2 years of current consumption, and that is
according to the most optimistic estimate.

[MA Blog Editor note – the shortfall appears to be over $1 trillion: https://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-tax/republican-tax-plans-cost-more-and-add-less-to-growth-than-proponents-claim The $1 billion may be a typo. 12 billion barrels of oil at $60 per barrel would be 720 billion dollars.]

The budget resolution required that this venture raise $1 billion
over 10 years. Republicans need that $1 billion to fund the big tax
cuts they are giving out to the wealthy and to big corporations. When
the numbers were finally crunched, though, drilling in that Arctic
coastal plain couldn’t produce those numbers. Did this reality dissuade
my Republican colleagues? No. Instead, they have proposed to make up
the difference by selling off 7 million barrels from the Strategic
Petroleum Reserve–the United States’ emergency supply of crude oil,
which actually does help guarantee our energy security. They want to
sell reserve oil to fund those cuts for the wealthy and the big
corporations.
” [MA blog Editor note: 7 million barrels times $60 is $420 million]

An auction last week of oil and gas leases in another part of
Northern Alaska bodes ill for Republican hopes about drilling in the
wilderness preserve. On 900 tracts of land offered up to oil and gas
companies, the Bureau of Land Management fielded just seven bids–900
tracts of land, 7 bids.

Why is that?

For one thing, low prices for crude oil make the prospect of
exploring undeveloped Alaskan wilderness less appealing.
In general,
current industry appetite for high-risk “frontier” exploration is
very low, observed an energy analysis at Raymond James & Associates.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge “would suffer from much the same
thing.”

A second problem is that oil companies are likely overstating their
achievable existing reserves already. They will have to leave a lot in
the ground of what they are now claiming as reserves. Buying more when
you cannot sell what you already have is not a great strategy. Low-cost
renewables and excess supply will further drive oil prices down and
down if the laws of supply and demand hold true.

This may be one reason the World Bank just announced in this new
story, dated 2 days ago, that it will end its financial support for oil
and gas exploration within the next 2 years. It is in response to the
growing threat that is posed by climate change. That is where they are
going. We are going the wrong way.

The sad irony of Arctic drilling is that the American Arctic will
feel the effects of burning fossil fuels most severely. The U.S. Global
Change Research Program’s “Climate Science Special Report,” authored
by scientists and experts from top universities and across the Federal
Government, found that while all regions of the United States will see
significant warming by the end of the century, Alaska is expected to
take the hardest hit–potentially over 12 degrees Fahrenheit warmer by
2100, which is under the high-emission scenario shown down here at the
bottom right.

The northern edge of Alaska, including the historic whale-hunting
village of Utqiagvik–and please forgive me, the people of Utqiagvik,
for mangling the village’s pronunciation–could see temperature
increases of 18 degrees Fahrenheit. This village, which is only about
300 miles west of the area in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
targeted for oil and gas development, is already seeing its coastlines
overrun by rising seas, its permafrost melting beneath its buildings,
and its beaches washing out to sea in strong winter storms as the
protective shoreline sea ice forms later and later each year.

Here is another news flash from Utqiagvik: 320 miles north of the
Arctic Circle, a weather station in America’s northernmost city of
Utqiagvik has been collecting temperature data since the 1920s. Just
recently, the average temperature went so off the chart at the weather
station there that the instrumentation shut down the recording because
the algorithm that monitored this figured that something must have gone
wrong with the instrumentation because the numbers were so out of
whack.

The numbers were not out of whack. It was actually very real climate
change that changed the environment and sent that signal that blew
through the algorithm that the scientists had set up.

But, in this building, in this room, the warnings from our best
scientists about the consequences of our carbon emissions just don’t
count. The hyped economics about oil drilling don’t count here. The
weird budgetary jujitsu required to shoehorn this environmental hit
into a tax bill doesn’t matter here. What matters here is that the oil
companies want to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and so
Republicans are making it happen.

Republicans claim to be cleaning up the Tax Code, but their so-called
tax reform leaves in place most of the oil and tax giveaways that have
benefited that industry for decades. The Big Oil giants, like BP,
Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips, have enjoyed nearly $1
trillion in profits over the past 10 years. Yes, let’s rush to their
assistance.

Never mind the beleaguered American families, many of whom
will see taxes go up from this bill. Let’s rush to the defense of those
companies with $1 trillion in profits over the past 10 years. They
continue to benefit from multibillion-dollar tax subsidies.

I am proud to have repeatedly cosponsored Senator Menendez’s bill
that would close the loopholes for the Big Oil giants, saving $22
billion for taxpayers and debt holders over the next decade. The
Republican bill not

[[Page S8040]]

only leaves most of the old loopholes in place, but it offers new
giveaways to the oil and gas industries. A last-minute change scribbled
in during the Senate vote-arama will allow traded oil and gas
partnerships to use the so-called passthrough loophole that the
Republicans claim is designed to help small businesses.

While the Republican tax plan boosts the fossil fuel polluters with
this new tax gift, it singles out renewable energy to undermine those
jobs.
The way this works is that, under the historic bipartisan
agreement that many of us worked on in 2015, developers of new wind
energy were given a period in which tax credits for projects for which
construction begins by the end of 2019 would be protected. There was a
bargain struck in this body. We came together, and we agreed on a
bipartisan result. This tax bill breaks that deal and breaks that
result for wind and for solar. For wind, it was until the end of 2019.
For solar, it was through 2021.

These tax credits have been vital to the growth of the renewable
industry across the country. It has grown in red States and in blue
States. In fact, the five States that get the largest percentage of
their electricity from wind and that have all of those wind energy jobs
are Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and North Dakota. Texas
produces the most wind power of any State. The Republican tax bill is
likely to upend the progress that we have made on renewables, disrupt
ongoing projects, and ruin those jobs–all with clever provisions, the
trick being to render those renewable tax credits that we bargained for
practically valueless.

Renewable developers don’t usually turn a profit in the early years.
So they don’t have taxes against which to apply the tax credits. They
sell the tax credits to others, and they use the revenue from selling
the tax credits to support those wind and solar investments. The clever
fossil fuel trick in the Senate bill–specifically, the corporate AMT
and base erosion so-called provisions–would make these credits
worthless to the businesses that have been buying them. With no buyers
for the tax credits, funds for new wind and solar projects will dry up.

There is even more nonsense in the House bill that takes direct aim
at the wind and solar credits, including changing the rules on how
projects would qualify for the credits, not just in the future but also
retroactively. They go back to undo deals that have already been done.
So $20 billion in projects have frozen up, developers say, just from
the threat of these changes.

Renewable energy industry organizations, including the American Wind
Energy Association, the American Council on Renewable Energy, the
American Conservation Coalition, Citizens for Responsible Energy
Solutions, the Conservative Energy Network, and Conservatives for Clean
Energy, all warn that the tax bill will jeopardize growth and jobs in
wind and solar projects.

“If these provisions are retained,” the groups wrote to Senators,
“they will result in broad instability and uncertainty for businesses
and investors across many sectors, including the clean energy sector.”

Gosh, I hope my Republican friends will listen to our wind and solar
producers, particularly the ones in their home States. I hope they will
listen to the people who are counting on the jobs of those $20 billion
in projects that have now been put on the shelf. I hope they will
listen to American taxpayers, who are sick of midnight-deal corporate
welfare like this.

If they do listen, they can scrap this terrible bill. They can sit
down and work with Democrats. It would be a novelty, but we would
welcome it. We could have a bipartisan tax bill that works for the
middle class, for the economy, and for the environment, but with the
oil and gas industry calling the shots around here, fat chance of that.
I yield the floor.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Virginia.

Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, first of all, I thank my friend, the
Senator from Rhode Island, for two things–one, for being a constant
voice on the need for us to diversify our energy sources and supplies
and for recognizing the enormous challenge around climate change.

I come from a State that is not too dissimilar from his in terms of
its having a great deal of shoreline. We see the effects of the
changing climate each and every day. At high tide, we have parts of the
city of Norfolk that have never before flooded that flood on a regular
basis.

Mr. WHITEHOUSE. On a sunny day.
Mr. WARNER. On a sunny day.

We have a church that has to regularly change its schedule of
worship, not because the Lord has asked them to change the schedule of
worship but because it floods on a regular basis.

Let me also thank him for his comments about the tax legislation. I
share his concern as somebody who feels very strongly that there is a
right way and a wrong way to do tax reform. Unfortunately, the product
I believe we will be voting on next week, not only the provisions the
Senator from Rhode Island talked about, will also add close to $2
trillion to our debt.

In many ways, it does not even take care of the problems we are
supposed to solve, in terms of the ability of companies to bring back
profits from overseas in a way to reinvest in this country.

Frankly, it exacerbates the problem where companies can further hide their profits
abroad.

I share his doubt about whether our colleagues will join us in
starting anew, but if they would, I would join with them and others in
trying to make sure we do tax reform in a fair, balanced way that is
fiscally responsible. I thank Senator Whitehouse for his comments

https://www.congress.gov/congressional-record/2017/12/14/senate-section/article/s8039-1?r=75
Emphasis our own.