By Richard Peterson
President Bush said it right in a recent speech when he declared that America was addicted to oil. No doubt about it. We import 60% of our oil and we are totally dependent and at the mercy of overseas suppliers, primarily Arab nations. Our present predicament in Iraq has its roots in our thirst for oil. If there were no oil in Iraq, we wouldn’t be bogged down there.
The Associated Press reported recently that the bill for importing oil in 2005 came to $251.6 billion, a 40 percent increase over 2004.
That’s a quarter of a trillion dollar drain on our economy in only one year!
According to the American Corn Growers Assn. there will be a 2 billion bushel surplus of corn grown in the US this year. That production should be turned into ethanol.
There is no more pressing concern than to end our dependence on foreign oil. It can be done. Other countries have done it. Brazil, for instance, produces 40 percent of its fuel from agricultural products. All it takes is the will of the government and some cold, hard cash behind that program. It would be money well spent.
So far, President Bush has only given lip service to ethanol and biodiesel, while at the same time trying to cut federal programs that would encourage production of these fuels.
He thinks part of the solution is to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge which would produce and distribute oil perhaps ten years from now. His incredibly poor judgment shows through again. You don’t give addicts what they crave. You get them off their addiction.
Cheap gas is the last thing we need. Cheap gas will only lull us into complacency and continued dependence on foreign sources. We must get away from our petroleum-based economy for the sake of our national security. We should be moving to an ethanol and biodiesel-based economy on a crash basis.
Don’t look for this to be happening until the Bush nightmare is over in 2008. Big oil loves this dependency and Bush and Cheney are oilmen to the core. High oil prices just make them richer and richer.
Farmers voted overwhelmingly for George W. Bush. He’s paying them back in spades. He’s threatening a veto if emergency aid for farmers is included in a major budget bill.
The American Corn Growers Association (ACGA) is warning Congress that the pending budget package submitted by President Bush cuts too deeply into the safety net for America’s farm families and shortchanges critical rural programs and renewable energy initiatives.
"Agriculture funding takes one of the biggest hits," said Larry Mitchell, ACGA’s chief executive. "This budget unfairly targets agriculture and makes disproportionate and draconian cuts to the safety net established by the 2002 Farm Bill. The budget cuts farm programs by $9.4 billion over 10 years through a 5 percent reduction in farm program payments, assessments on sugar, modifications to the dairy program, and $1.3 billion in cuts from the federal crop insurance program, which protects farmers against risks caused by natural disasters and price fluctuations. The cuts come on the heels of $2.7 billion in cuts over five years to commodity programs just enacted in the budget reconciliation bill."
"The president’s budget also cuts renewable energy programs, which create jobs, and reduce our dependency on foreign oil, added Mitchell. The president’s budget eliminates all funding for bioenergy incentives that help expand the production of ethanol and biodiesel.
Further, the budget cuts renewable energy loans (from $177 million to
$35 million) and grants, as well as biomass research and development.
It also slashes value-added grants, which can be used to fund energy start-up companies, by $100 million. These cuts come at a time when farmers are facing record fuel and fertilizer prices."
"The budget would cut funding for conservation programs," explained Mitchell. "The Environmental Quality Incentive Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program, and the Farmland Protection Program are cut by $29 million. It also cuts the Resource Conservation and Development Councils by 50 percent, which work to increase conservation of natural resources and support economic development in local communities."
Mitchell listed several other serious cuts contained in the budget plan, including:
* Cuts rural small business assistance and aid to small manufacturers,
* Cuts Medicare and Medicaid, hurting rural seniors,
* Slashes rural health care by 83 percent,
* Shortchanges rural airports, information, and infrastructure,
* Shortchanges rural educational opportunity,
* Slashes rural housing by $259 million, and
* Cuts law enforcement, first responders, and anti-meth grants.
"There is no question that we must balance the budget," concluded Mitchell. "But the cuts for rural America are too far out of proportion under the president’s plan.
"We must reverse policies that favor wealthy corporate interests at the expense of America’s farm families, rural citizens and our nation’s economic security," Mitchell said.