Sunday, June 08, 2008

In MN-01 Davis opposes mandates but what about subsidies ?

Dr. Brian Davis, the MN-GOP endorsed candidate for Minnesota’s First District, is in stark contrast to other Republicans and even the District’s previous Republican Congressman.

During the MN-GOP State Convention, Dr. Davis was interviewed by Gary Eichten on MPR , who asked what distinguished him from other candidates, the answer was mandates … specifically, he cited Republican State Senator Dick Day belief in alternate fuel mandates.
Without citing specifics, the presumption is that Davis disagrees with Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty who signed renewable energy legislation which was passed by the Minnesota Senate 61-4 vote and Minnesota House by 123-10.
Davis’ opposition to alternate fuel mandates must be quite a shock to former First District Congressman Gil Gutknecht whose signature issue had been his “10/10 Act” – HR 4537 - that would require all gasoline sold for use in motor vehicles to contain 10 percent renewable fuel in the year 2010. When Tim Walz was elected over the incumbent Gutknecht, John Kline immediately proposed HR 349 to enact the mandate.

On January 9th, Davis outlined to First District Republicans his ideas on Energy Policy stating “The free market and the laws of supply and demand work much better than our government attempting to mandate conservation and setting quotas.”
Davis contends that “There have been numerous attempts at ‘mandating’ our way to energy independence over the past 35 years with little success.”
His goal includes “Eliminating current automobile mileage standards and government-imposed production mandates.”
The history of CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) is pretty short. The first mandate was part of the “Energy Policy Conservation Act,” enacted into law by Congress in 1975 which was passed in response to the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo. The next major change will be affected by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 after President Bush requested the first increase in CAFE standards in January. The legislation was overwhelmingly approved by Congress including including Minnesota’s Norm Coleman and 36 other Republican Senators. It will require in part that automakers boost fleetwide gas mileage to 35 mpg by the year 2020.
Davis contention that were “little success” are disputed by a committee of the National Academy of Sciences who wrote a 2002 report on the effects of the CAFE standard. The report’s conclusions include a finding that in the absence of CAFE, and with no other fuel economy regulation substituted, motor vehicle fuel consumption would have been approximately 14 percent higher than it actually was in 2002.

Opposing mandates seems to be a prime mission for Davis who said at the First Congressional District Republican endorsing convention on March 29th, “We need to focus less on mandates that pay tribute to the falsehoods of man-made global warming and emphasize more the free market, and increasing domestic energy supply.
What Davis does want, he states: “If Congress wants an energy bill it should work to remove obstacles to domestic energy production by increasing supply, such as opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf for oil exploration and recovery.”
Although drilling in ANWR is a popular idea among some Republicans, it is opposed by presumed Republican Presidential nominee John McCain and MN Senator Norm Coleman. Additionally, Florida Republican Governors Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist have opposed drilling in OCS.
Here’s my question for Dr. Davis, if drilling is permitted in ANWR and the OCS, who should receive the royalties and how much should be paid? For example, the Alaska Permanent Fund paid dividends in the amount of $1654 to every eligible man, woman and child in 2007. Increasing ANWR drilling will increase this “subsidy” and yet, why should Minnesotan taxpayers help to pay for a “Bridge to Nowhere” while Alaska has no state income tax and is 50th in rankings of state sales tax (yep, that’s the lowest in the nation.) Second, current leases for drilling in the Gulf Coast didn’t include price thresholds that require companies to pay royalties. With the rampant run-up in market price of a barrel of oil, why shouldn’t a royalty be paid as it is in Alaska? And, obviously, why doesn’t that royalty payment belong in the general US Treasury?

Davis states his other energy solution as “It’s clear today that nuclear energy can play a key role in expanding electric power generation and reducing our dependence on foreign oil and natural gas, a major fuel source for electricity generation.
Here’s my question for Dr. Davis, if you oppose mandates, will you oppose subsidies for the nuclear industry ? Taxpayer subsidies include over $13 billion in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. While the Omnibus Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2008 includes more than $18 billion in federal loan guarantees.

As a fiscal conservative, I have a greater tolerance for mandates that improve fuel in inefficiencies which reduce consumption, and I oppose subsidies that benefit selected groups.

Davis appears to be locking onto a energy ideology that is out of step with our needs and even out of step with prominent Republicans (Bush, McCain, Coleman, Pawlenty, etc.)

As voters consider who to support in the Republican primary, Dick Day asks "Where should our tax dollars be targeted?" while Dr. Davis appears to tell us what we want.

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