Americans Deserve Better Than The Omnibus Bill

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Originally published on the ECOreport.

The US omnibus budget bill was passed by overwhelming majorities in both the Senate (65 to 33) and House of Representatives (316 to 113). America’s solar and wind sectors are now assured they will receive incentives for another 5 years, but there is a lot to be concerned about in legislation. I agree with Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska (Rep.) when he said Americans deserve better than the omnibus bill.

Ryan’s Wish List

Paul Ryan taking a question during 20912 - by via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

As I did not have time to digest the entire document (& it sounds like neither did most senators), I am relying on author Paul Ryan’s claims that his bill:

  • beefs up the military budget so the US can fight ISIL
  • will “deny visa waiver status to any individual who has traveled to certain terrorist hotspots, including Syria and Iraq, in the last five years.”
  • “prohibits new funding for Obamacare”
  • “contains no funding for new or expanded EPA programs, holding the agency to its lowest funding levels since 2008 and its lowest staffing levels since 1989.”
  • “freezes most IRS operations”
  • maintains important pro-life provisions, including the Hyde Amendment, and prohibits taxpayer funding for abortion. It also includes a ban on FDA approval for genetically modifying human embryos and cuts funding for a program involved in abortion-related activities, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), by 7 percent.”
  • “ensures our veterans receive their much-deserved health benefits, speeds up VA claims processing, prioritizes modernizing the VA’s electronic health care record system, and tightens oversight of construction projects.”
  • “provides critical health care benefits for … more than 30,000 first responders continue to suffer from injuries or illnesses sustained during the 9/11 attacks.”
  • “repeals harmful labeling requirements on American meat.”
  • and … The most controversial item, for some environmentalists, is lifting the 1975 ban on exporting oil from the US. Paul Ryan believes this will translate into 1 million jobs across 50 states and an influx of $170 billion annually into the US economy. (I find it difficult to accept these numbers in a world transitioning to a carbon-free economy.)

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Loss of EPA Funding

Some believe that, with proper regulation and enforcement, the problems with the “fracking industry” (water contamination, earthquakes, etc) could be brought down to acceptable levels.

There have also been problems with some renewable projects causing harm to local ecosystems and/or provoking neighbourhood concerns.

We nee a stronger EPA, not one whose funding has been slashed to the bare minimum.

Translation: as the government’s ability to protect Americans is further restricted, expect more lawsuits from environmentalists and concerned citizens.

People endorsing renewable energy, versus fossil fuels, need to realize that in many cases these are the same companies. (For example: Iberdola Renewables is a subsidiary of Avangrid, which also has a natural gas division.)

The Renewable Provisions

As regards the renewable incentives, which “bought” the support of many wind and solar supporters:

The solar tax incentive will continue until 2022, though in decreasing amounts:

  • 30% until 2019
  • 26% in 2020
  • 22% in 2021
  • 10% in 2022

The 2.3-cent per kilowatt-hour credit wind credit will also be extended in decreasing amounts:

  • 20% less for facilities which start construction after December 31, 2016, and before January 1, 2018
  • 40% less for facilities started after December 31,
    12 2017, and before January 1, 2019
  • 60% less in the case of any facility the construction of which begins after December 31, 2018, and before January 1, 2020.

The Omnibus Bill: The American People Deserve Better

Dan Sullivan Alaska
Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska

The final, and I believe most authoritative, comments about this omnibus bill come from Senator Dan Sullivan (Rep.) of Alaska:

“I’m still not 100% sure why the appropriations and funding process was just halted in this body. And then you saw the smash up, the last week, when everything came together at the end of the year. I’m not sure what the motivation was to do this, but I do know this, the way in which we fund our Federal Government. In this case 72 hours, to read a 2,200 page $1.8 trillion dollar take it or leave it bill, negotiated by just a few members of congress and the White House, is a broken process. It is not worthy of our great nation or the people we represent.”

Photo Credits: screenshot from vote in the US senate; Paul Ryan taking a question during 2012 – by via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License); Screenshot of Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska commenting during the senate vote

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Roy L Hales

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the Cortes Currents (formerly the ECOreport), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of British Columbia. He is a research junkie who has written over 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

Roy L Hales has 441 posts and counting. See all posts by Roy L Hales