Archive for July, 2008

We can’t drill our way out of problem

July 31, 2008

The following is a letter to the editor published July 30 in the South Bend Tribune)

We can’t drill our way out of problem
VOICE OF THE PEOPLE

Responding to consumer outrage at the high cost of gasoline, the president and Congress (including Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Granger) are rushing to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and our coastal plains. Please listen, everyone: We cannot drill our way out of high prices and gas shortages. The oil derived from such drilling would be a decade away and a pittance of what we need — if it weren’t sold to China first.

Far more sensible solutions are to use what we have more wisely (energy efficiency) and to develop alternatives to the old, outmoded methods of digging and drilling. High gas prices and threats of global warming are spurring a race to solve the energy crisis technologically. Not only are strides being made in the familiar alternatives of wind and solar, but other innovations appear almost daily, such as transforming the energy of social dancers into electricity that powers the hall they’re dancing in!

The possibilities seem endless.

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Let’s rescind the tax breaks we’ve given the major oil companies, who have amassed almost $600 billion in profits since 2001, and devote the revenue instead to developing sensible and sustainable ways of meeting our energy needs.

Laura Fuderer
South Bend

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Politico: Puckett owes nearly $2K in back taxes

July 25, 2008

from Politico:

• Indiana Republican Luke Puckett, who is running to unseat freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly, still owes $1,919.84 in 2006 property taxes, according to documents filed with the Elkhart County, Ind., treasurer. His campaign failed to respond to multiple requests for comment. Donnelly himself took a hit in 2006, during his own first race for the House. According to local tax records and newspaper accounts, Republicans unearthed a collection of tax records that showed he had paid a combined $2,349.50 in late-payment penalties on two properties he owns in Indiana’s LaPorte and St. Joseph counties. As of January 2006, Donnelly owed LaPorte County $9,068.86 in late property taxes and an additional $906.88 in penalties, according to documents there. Those revelations were not enough to keep him from beating the incumbent, Republican Chris Chocola.

RealClearPolitics on Indiana’s 2nd District race

July 23, 2008

from RealClearPolitics:

Indiana 02: Freshman Joe Donnelly has one of the more conservative voting records in the Democratic caucus, and his chances of keeping this northern Indiana district are mounting. Donnelly raised $248,000 in the Second Quarter and had $993,000 on hand, while his Republican challenger, businessman Luke Puckett, has yet to even file his report (A pre-primary report for Puckett showed he’d raised just $33,000 and given himself $150,000). Puckett is one of the GOP challengers headed to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and if he can make oil exploration an issue, he may stay competitive.

Donnelly speaks to Oversight and Govt. Reform committee

July 11, 2008

from “The Debate Link” blog:

Congressional Hearings Quick Grades
So the reason I blogged so late and spartanly today was because I was at a Hill hearing, namely, the House Oversight and Governmental Reform committees hearing on formaldehyde levels in FEMA trailers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The witnesses were a CDC scientist and four leaders of various corporations involved in trailer manufacturing.

It was long — far longer than the transgender discrimination hearing I attended earlier. Part of that was because it was the full committee, rather than a subcommittee, and part of that was because for some reason everyone decided they wanted a piece of the action. The issues themselves were a mix of confusing and arcane (what are the proper protocols for formaldehyde measurements?), tertiary and side-tracking (was FEMA given sufficient notice to attend?), re-hashed and agreed upon (yes, the government should have had consistent standards!) and a few (very few) spots of actual substance — primarily, when the conversation focused on whether the corporations had/should have provided notice of the formaldehyde levels in their trailers, and one instance of Gulf Stream flagrantly lying in a statement to the press.

So I passed the time giving mini-ratings of some of the committee members (not all, a great many of them were boring and left no impression). It’s really for my amusement more than yours, but maybe you’ll like it as well:

Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) — C: He wasn’t on the committee — he just asked special permission to come and ask questions. 75% of his single question was waxing poetic about how trucks with trailers rolled through his Indiana district, making him so proud to be from Indiana (did he mention that he visits his district often? It’s true!).

SBT: Donnelly addresses Notre Dame energy conference

July 8, 2008

from the South Bend Tribune:

[DW replies in bold type]

Article published Jul 8, 2008

Donnelly: Energy options need consideration
Congressman addresses ND energy conference

ED RONCO Tribune Staff Writer

SOUTH BEND — Conservation, alternative fuels and domestic exploration for oil — in no particular order, by the way — comprise the best strategy to make the United States energy independent, U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly said Monday.

[Notice the ‘in no particular order’ piece – indicative of Donnelly’s lack of willingness to take a strong, principled stand for developing sustainable, alternative energy sources as the primary strategy for solving our energy problems.]

Donnelly, D-Granger, was the keynote speaker at an energy conference put on by the University of Notre Dame’s Energy Center — a College of Engineering division formed in 2005 to help guide national energy policy.

Drilling domestically for oil, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, has been a national hot-button issue for years, including in this election year, and in this congressional district.

Donnelly’s Republican challenger, Luke Puckett, is traveling to the refuge next week along with other Republican congressional candidates to have a look around.

Donnelly, who has been accused by Puckett of voting in the past against exploration in ANWR, said he’s all for it.”I think it can be done in a responsible way,” Donnelly said Monday. “Other folks think it cannot. And I respect that view. That’s why there’s the Yankees and the Red Sox. The same with the outer continental shelf.”

[Why can’t Donnelly as an incumbent Democrat in a year distinctly favorable to Democrats feel secure in standing his ground? What does ‘responsible’ mean exactly? Why wasn’t Donnelly asked to explain himself?]

Donnelly said there could be 80 billion barrels of oil in the outer continental shelf — an area of seabed sloping away from U.S. shores before dropping off into the deep ocean.

[Yes, it’s *possible* there *could* be 80 billion barrels of oil but what did he say about the *possible* environmental impact of extracting this undetermined amount of oil?]

But more needs to be done in the way of exploring alternative sources of energy, too, he said.

Donnelly pointed to a bill the House passed shortly after coming under Democratic control in 2006. It redirected $18 billion in tax credits for oil companies to firms exploring solar, wind and hydrogen energy.

“To this day, we’ve still not been able to have the administration sign it,” he said. “(Oil companies) made $120 billion last year. That’s with a B. They don’t need $18 billion from the folks who live in South Bend and in Mishawaka and in LaPorte to help pay for their oil exploration.”During the question-and-answer portion of Donnelly’s presentation, someone suggested that total energy independence might be a “pipe dream,” especially in an economy becoming more global.

“Brazil did that,” Donnelly said. “Brazil set it as a goal. They’ve achieved it and their economy has become much stronger.”

The South American nation has used its massive sugar crops to help produce biofuels that have reduced its dependence on foreign oil.

The United States needs to find a way to mirror Brazil’s success, Donnelly said, rather than send hundreds of millions of dollars to the Middle East.

“It has weakened our dollar and it has weakened our financial position in the world,” he said. “We need to keep those funds here.”Donnelly calls his view the “all-in” philosophy, as in, all options are in the running, and he said he’d like to see other members of Congress subscribe to it.

“You have people on either side who don’t like certain portions of it,” he said “And I think it’s one of those situations where you may not like this portion or that portion but together it makes tremendous sense.”

[Right. So, again, what exactly does an “all-in” philosophy mean other than as a sound-bite?]

WSJ: Donnelly, Puckett, and ANWR

July 8, 2008

from the Wall-Stree Journal’s Political Diary:

[bold text emphasis by DW]

Political Diary
July 3, 2008

Republicans Discover Oil
Here’s a piece of intelligence from the field that the McCain campaign should take careful note of: Republicans in difficult House races are spending scarce campaign dollars to travel to Alaska to dramatize their stance on the drilling issue.

Those making the trek include former Rep. Mike Sodrel, who lost his Southern Indiana seat in 2006 and is making a comeback bid; South Dakota businessman Chris Lien, who is running against Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin for the state’s lone House seat; Gulf War veteran Craig Williams, running for Congress in Pennsylvania; Indiana businessman Luke Puckett, running for a seat that borders Lake Michigan; and Paul Stark, who is running in Wisconsin. The five GOP candidates, traveling as a group, will stop off in Anchorage to meet with industry experts and local officials – Alaskans of both parties overwhelmingly favor drilling in ANWR – before making the final hour-and-a-half flight to the refuge.

Talk about seismic. In February, only 42% of voters supported drilling in a Pew poll while 50% were opposed. Those numbers are reversed in the latest poll and such surveys are evidently a lagging indicator if Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly knows his business. Mr. Donnelly, who’s fighting off the Puckett challenge in Indiana, voted last year to extend a moratorium on offshore drilling but changed his mind with the arrival of $4 gas. His spokesman even tells the South Bend Tribune: “It’s a bit odd that Luke Puckett would travel over 3,500 miles to Alaska to convince Joe Donnelly of something he already supports. Joe doesn’t need to go to ANWR to know that domestic exploration is an important part of a long-term strategy for energy independence.”