Bush’s allies in Congress are using high gas prices as another excuse for massive giveaways to the oil industry. The Los Angeles Times reports that conservative "leaders in Congress announced plans to introduce new legislation or amend existing measures to bestow more tax breaks on the industry and provide other incentives left out of the big energy bill Bush signed into law in August." The oil industry hardly needs the help. Even before Katrina hit, oil companies were flush with cash. ExxonMobil’s profits are expected to exceed $10 billion in the third quarter of 2005, "more net income than any company has ever made in a quarter." Now the industry is using Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to jack up prices — and profit margins — even higher.
A right-wing plan to cut the federal budget by $500 billion over ten years would destroy nearly all existing programs that promote energy efficiency and conservation. The scheme, dubbed "Operation Offset," would eliminate the EnergyStar program, the Hydrogen Fuel initiative, the Freedom Car program, funds for research on renewable energy, and programs that support high-speed rail. A progressive approach would save more money in half the time and would preserve all of those programs.