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What's happened in Congress during the last two weeks on energy and drilling issues could send us several major steps backwards on the road to a clean and prosperous energy future.

As I write this, Congress—instead of passing measures to further increase fuel efficiency and reduce oil demand—is capitulating to the "drill, baby, drill" drumbeat. At midnight, two critical moratoriums will lapse: on offshore drilling and oil shale development in the West. At the same time, crucial tax incentives for wind and solar energy have yet to be renewed.

Earthjustice has been accused of being many things, including preferring birds over people (which reminds me of a fine old quote. Charles Callison, a stalwart of the Audubon Society, was once asked whether he liked people or birds better. He said, "I like the people who like birds.").

Many of us, self included, have long lamented that environmental issues never play much of a role in presidential elections. I firmly believed that if Al Gore had stressed some of those issues in 2000 he'd be the one now winding up his second term. John Kerry likewise, maybe.

Well, now we've got a campaign where the environment and energy are front and center and we’re getting hammered.

The Energy Information Administration is the official energy statistic keeper for the US Government. Here is what they recently said about opening up the outer continental shelf to new oil drilling.

The projections in the OCS access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.

There was a piece in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle that said that people are abandoning their cars in favor of buses and trains in unprecedented numbers and that the experts say the shift may be permanent.

The reason is high gas prices, of course, and that corroborates what some of us have been saying for years—that gas prices should be high, for this very reason. This is painful for some people, no doubt about that, and someone should figure out ways to help them, but overall this is definitely the proverbial silver lining.

Bill is a long-haul truck driver, plying his trade on the highways of middle America. In my last post about him, I told how he called Earthjustice from his truck, attacking environmentalists for bringing him, and America, to the point of economic ruin.

He ranted in my ear for 5 minutes about me being stupid and un-American for not letting oil companies drill us back to the days of cheap gas. Our national backyard, from Alaska to the coastlines of lower-48, is full of oil, he said – utterly exasperated at my inability to comprehend such common sense.

One of the first things I ever had published in a book was a chapter in The Environmental Handbook, a Friends of the Earth/Ballantine Books number, published for the first Earth Day, in 1970. It was called, "Ecopornography, or How to Spot an Ecological Phony."

It's time to dust it off and send it around again.

Ecoporn, as defined by us, is image advertising run by large enterprises, often engaged in enriching themselves and their shareholders via the exploitation of public resources. Oil companies, in other words, and mining companies, and so forth.

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