recently received a “special report” from Scott Rigell, my Representative in Washington from the 2nd congressional district of
Virginia. I’m on his email list, as I like to keep up with what politicians are
deciding in my name. Or not.
|U.S. Representative Scott Rigell|
is a Republican who has been congratulated in the Washington Post, among other newspapers, for his moderate,
bipartisan profile. I’m not so sure I see that in the votes he’s cast—lining up
behind obstructionist Republicans on every major policy bill, including
sequestration, during his first term, 2010-12.
newspaper editorials still count for something, and for Rigell it’s meant a
so long ago I saw an online ranking of the wealthiest members of Congress—House
and Senate. Rigell was 24th. So I guess he’s pretty rich. I also have seen
reports that he receives campaign support from oil and gas interests, though,
to his credit—or his political advisor’s—he returns something like 15 percent
of his Congressional salary back to the government to help pay for the deficit.
He is very worried, he says, about the deficit, and I suppose I would be, too,
if I could understand it. I do understand that I don’t want my country to go
down the drain in a great wash of debt.
have communicated with Rep. Rigell on many occasions, usually questioning or
objecting to his position on most issues, from guns to butter. I have not heard
back from him for almost two years. His staff probably figures he doesn’t need
my vote, which to date has been true.
this recent “Special Rigell Report” concerns me very much. With clear
excitement, he writes that he and his colleagues have found the answer to
several of Virginia’s critical issues with one sweep of the legislative arm.
answer is in The Virginia Jobs and Energy Act (H.R. 1782), which Rigell has
introduced in Congress. It has bipartisan support here in Virginia. Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Tim
Kaine are onboard, as is Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, the Richmond Times
Dispatch, and even Will Sessoms, the Mayor of Virginia Beach.
his part, Rigell calls the Act his “number one legislative priority.” In
bold-face type, he writes: “We can create more than 18,000 jobs by leveraging
traditional energy sources, and in the process, generate the revenue to improve
our schools and fix our roads.”
energy sources, of course, means oil and gas which means exploration and
drilling off the coast of Virginia Beach and the Virginia Eastern Shore. Ordinary
citizens needn’t worry. It will be far enough out to sea that we won’t ever
notice. And of course the technology will be safe.
be fair, in a separate paragraph Rigell includes wind as part of the
job-creation plan. But that paragraph is not set in bold-face type.)
the Rigell bill really means to me is more business for the huge energy
corporations which have served us fossil fuels since the industrial revolution.
Yet the verdict is pretty much in. Burning those fossil fuels is seriously
polluting Planet Earth, and if we don’t stop we’re going to be dealing with
something worse than a world war.
may be able to fool their constituents and even fool themselves, but, as the
old saying goes, “You can’t fool Mother Nature.” She’s choking with evidence
that will prove us guilty, and—face it—many of us won’t live through the
politicians make their deals in the capitals, pretending to be oblivious to the
obvious: jobs won’t mean a hill of beans if the environment isn’t preserved and
protected. Is the disastrous Gulf oil spill so soon forgotten? BP has
commercials on TV trying to lure people back to safe beaches, but fish and
wildlife with strange mutations and defects have been reported over a wide
radius surrounding the spill site. Like Fukishima (another disaster the
politicians and tycoons try to ignore), the Gulf oil spill was further proof,
if any was needed, that our complex technology is not really under our control,
and there is a high price to be paid if it fails.
written to Rep. Rigell several times on this issue. He has never responded to
explain to me why drilling for oil and fracking for gas off the East Coast from
Virginia Beach to Chincoteague Island is more important than preserving,
protecting, and hopefully restoring a natural environment that supports all
life forms, including humans. Wouldn’t such projects create jobs? Increase
state revenues? Save the planet?
I an extremist to wish that investing in the health of the planet would be
Scott Rigell’s “number one legislative priority?”
the bums out!
June 8, 2013—Update:
Yesterday, June 7, I received a rare email response from Rep Rigell on the
off-shore drilling issue. I doubt it was a response to the above blog post, as
I’d emailed him a few weeks ago stating my feelings on the issue, but you never
know who reads a blog. Perhaps it was discovered by the government’s universal
internet mining and collection machine.
In any case, here is what Rigell had
to say in defense of his position:
“On January 31, 2011, the price of oil eclipsed $100 a barrel for the
first time since 2008. Many leaders from the nations represented in the
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) expressed support
for this price point and do not plan on taking any action to mitigate the
rising costs. On top of these economic consequences, the increasing price
of oil is also a risk to our national security. Americans are forced to
continue to send billions of dollars to foreign governments that funnel money
to extremist groups that pose a threat to our nation. For all of these reasons,
I believe that it is in the best interest of America to explore all options for
increasing our domestic energy production. Part of this effort will
involve renewable energy solutions that are vital to our long-term economic
prosperity. In the time being, however, as these technologies are further
developed we must explore domestic energy solutions that are readily available.
“Energy exploration in the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) or off of our coasts should be
considered. Prudent regulations and restrictions can ensure that drilling in
these locations is both economically feasible and environmentally sound; these
goals are not mutually exclusive. While we must learn from the mistakes of the
BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast, we cannot use this one
situation to deter all offshore energy exploration in the future. I strongly
disagree with the President's decision to put a moratorium on drilling off of Virginia's coast. “
Note that Rigell minimizes the Gulf spill in favor of money
interests and “prudent regulations and restrictions” of the industries which
will get the contracts, not only in Virginia
but in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (“Prudent
regulation,” in Republican-speak, means less regulation, and doesn’t he
understand the meaning of the world “refuge”?) He also minimizes the damage
done by the BP spill, excusing the accident with the promise of doing better in
the future. On top of that he cites “national security,” the catch-all phrase
for most questionable government decisions, as further justification for his
position. These excuses have been used by politicians and corporations over and
over to justify business as usual while paying the requisite lip service to the
larger concern—our common Earthly environment. And while Rigell says he favors
renewable energy sources in the long run, the promise is disingenuous. Industry
spokespeople and politicians alike admit it will take several years to bring to
fruition whatever resources lie offshore. Wouldn’t that time, with its fat
subsidies, be better spent on developing renewable technologies?
Rigell’s plan is an ill-disguised excuse to give more business to the existing
structures that no longer serve the common welfare. I’m sorry, Rep. Rigell,
your defense of the old ways of doing things just won’t cut the mustard with
this Thinking Dog. I still say, “Throw the bums out.”