Harsh things were said about the damaging health effects created by the burning of diesel fuel at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee meeting this week.
The comments of Barbara Boxer, chairman (D-CA), against diesel, and differing observations of the ranking member, James Inhofe (R-OK), favoring natural gas appear to be the beginning of a renewed push for expanded use of this relatively clean fuel in some transportation applications.
The Environment and Public Works Committee’s is looking at ways to use the next surface transportation bill to improve our nation’s energy security and the environment. Its jurisdiction includes responsibility for addressing global warming, and it has responsibility for legislation related to transportation systems.
Leaving politics aside, at stake is U.S. energy independence, as well as how your tax dollars are used to subsidize types of energy use.
“Making our transportation system more efficient and reducing oil consumption can help to make our country less dependent on countries that don’t like us. Our transportation system’s reliance on fossil fuels also contributes significantly to air pollution that is harmful to public health and the environment,” said Boxer in her opening remarks.
Roughly, two thirds of all the oil consumed in this country is used for transportation. Heavy-duty trucks and buses, and non-road sources make up 42% of all transportation greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Significant growth in these areas is predicted.
Moreover, the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. imported 59% of its oil, or 322 million barrels in February 2010, sending about $25 billion, – or more than $600,000 a minute – to foreign countries. Since January 2009, the U.S. has imported more than five billion barrels of oil as our politicians postured about energy independence. This debate, of course, goes all the way back to the Carter Administration. (Click here for the sorry record our alleged “leaders” have compiled on energy security and independence.)
“Diesel exhaust contributes to asthma attacks, bronchitis and other respiratory illness, heart disease, permanent harm to the lungs of children and cancer. In fact, diesel exhaust contains more than 40 cancer-causing substances, according to the California Air Resources Board,” Boxer added.
Inhofe took a different, but potentially complimentary tack – if you can believe that Republicans will work with Democrats on anything, and vice versa, for the common good, as opposed to partisan political gain.
“One innovative way to achieve that goal (energy independence) is through greater use of natural gas-powered vehicles,” Inhofe said, replying to Boxer.
“In 2008, when gasoline prices were above $4 per gallon, I was the first in Congress to introduce a comprehensive bill to promote the use of natural gas as a realistic alternative for the many Americans who were looking for price relief,” Inhofe said, not without self interest. “The bill I introduced was called the “Drive America on Natural Gas Act.”
What strikes me here is the seeming public agreement of Boxer – a fanatical global warming proponent, “one of the greatest challenges of our generation” – and Inhofe – a fanatical global warming opponent, “greatest hoax ever perpetuated on the American people” – over the benefits of natural gas. (more…)