California first district Congressman Mike Thompson rolled up his sleaves and got busy working with the new Democratic Party majority and President Barack Obama in the new session of Congress. Along with the usual voting, Mike put a bill he wrote in the hopper that would prohibit drilling for oil or gas off the coast of northern California, if passed. As a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, he voted for a "comprehensive economic recovery package" that included many provisions he advocated.
This is part of the process of creating H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Other committees and the Obama administration will also have input. According to Mike Thompson's web site, there are provision in the act for creating jobs by giving more government tax breaks to people and businesses who install alternative energy sources such as solar. The bill also contains a provision for extending unemployment benefits beyond the usual 6 month limit, and lots of money for "infrastructure."
As far as the offshore oil drilling ban, it will be interesting to see if he can get it passed. Will he offer to support drilling in other parts of the country in order to get a ban here? It is possible his submittal of the bill is just to get some good publicity. After all, when you go to his web site the first thing you see is a statement that he has always vocally criticized the war in Iraq. It fails to mention that he has always voted for funding the war. The Democratic Party has been in the position to stop the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for two years now, but they keep voting for funding.
I hope Mike is able to get his drilling bill passed, and his solar legislation [I own 50 shares of Applied Materials, which makes thin-film solar cells, but I would support this legislation even if I did not]. Perhaps we need to ban the use of carbon based fuels in the first district. After all, if we are not willing to mess up the local environment with drilling, maybe we should not mess up anyone elses either.
Most bills that are put in the hopper die in committee (and should, because they are usually done to appease special interests). That is the likely outcome of the Thompson offshore drilling ban bill. I hope that now, instead, with a Democratic President and Congress, a general ban on new drilling, and on any increase in petroleum imports, will be quickly be passed. There is no such thing as clean petroleum. It can only become energy by burning the carbon, producing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.
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Mike Thompson is the current elected member of the United States House of Representatives for California's 1st Congressional District.