Monday, March 26, 2007

Speaker's Gas Can't Power State

If empty promises, blame-games and inaction could be converted into raw fuel, Connecticut wouldn't have an energy crisis. We could run a pipeline right out of House Speaker Jim Amann's office in Hartford and power half the state.

The S
peaker breathlessly assured readers of the New Haven Register in a December 21, 2006 column that Democrats would have an energy plan they would unveil at the beginning of the session. In that column he blamed everyone from a nebulous “ Washingtonbogeyman to Governor Jodi Rell and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal for the problem.

Here we are three months later, and Speaker Amann and the Democratic majority have offered nothing. The Energy Committee’s deadline has come and gone without the appearance of this much-celebrated piece of fiction. It is interesting to review what he wrote those three months ago.

While this problem has been growing for years, the Speaker lectured us that it will take a “thoughtful, deliberative approach” to develop sound energy policy, indicating that he just recently began to think and deliberate on the problem. In fact, the House Democrats’ “Breaking Ground” agenda of 2006 broke more wind than ground, failing even to mention energy reforms in the release announcing the package in February 2006.

In his column, Speaker Amann rattled off an impressive list of things he and the heroic legislative Democrats have done to combat rising energy costs in Connecticut . They held summits! They heard testimony! The testimony was from “experts”! Then they created not one but two task forces!

They also had a very catchy name for this fantasy bill: "Energize Connecticut." Now, I may be no judge of character, but after watching Amann blow up like Paulie Walnuts at the Milford Train Station, I'd guess his idea of energizing people might involve a cattle prod to the pink parts.

During the previous session Senate Democrats and House Democrats, firmly in the majority, spent six months disagreeing on the form an energy bill should take. When adjournment took place in May without a bill, others were somehow to blame. Then everyone called for a special session. The Speaker says he called for one too, which is hardly convincing sin
ce to make a special session happen, all he had to do is say “I call a special session.”

Meanwhile the electric rate increases have put an enormous burden on residential customers, particularly those on fixed incomes. They also have a deeper impact on the state overall. Businesses will look to relocate to states where they can obtain power more cheaply. Those industries and businesses which are considering moving to Connecticut will re-evaluate that move because of high energy costs. As a result, Connecticut ’s economy will falter during a time when recovery has been slow.

So far we do have one terrific bill that aims at outlawing the light bulbs we use and requiring us to use fluorescent bulbs because they are supposedly big energy savers. Proponents include the likes of Rep. Mary Mushinsky (D- Wallingford), one of the biggest eco-geeks in the legislature whom I believe won't even eat fruit unless it has died of natural causes, and Rep. James O'Rourke (D-Cromwell), ironically one of the dimmest bulbs in the legislature who would doubtless be helped out by any room with lower lighting.

Legislative Democrats won a veto-proof majority in both the state House and Senate in the last election. They have been given the job of governing. If they are truly interested in making real reforms to the electric industry, they can implement them with or without Governor Rell. So far they have shown no interest in the Republican solutions to this issue. This session is already half over and they have nothing to show for it. If they fail, there is no one else to blame.

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