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Old 08-21-2001, 09:35 PM   #1
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Another Republican Congressman at Odds With Bush, This Time Over Sudan

As you may recall, I found myself at odds with the Clinton and Bush administrations over the issue of oil and natural gas drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. I sent a letter to my local U.S. Congressman, Spencer Bachus, (R-Alabama), asking him to support Congressman Joe Scarborough's (R-Pensacola) legislation aimed at banning further oil and gas exploration in the Gulf. Although it was not totally banned, exploration was limited to an area no closer than 200 miles to the Alabama and Florida shores, and such exploration will be delayed.
After writing Congressman Bachus, I was reasonably satisfied with the results.

Currently, Congressman Bachus is leading an uphill battle to strengthen the pending legislation known as the Sudan Peace Act with an amendment regarding foreign companies doing business in Sudan and trading on American stock exchanges. It has passed the House of Representatives, but seems to be finding resistance in the Senate and White House.

Below is an article from THE BIRMINGHAM NEWS regarding the efforts; if you knew what was happening in Sudan today, you would be shocked that institutional slavery is still allowed to exist.

Bachus wages one-sided war over Sudan policy


News Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON When it comes to policies affecting oil drilling and human rights in Sudan, U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus abandons his normally complimentary assessment of the Bush administration and becomes its harshest critic.

"What the president is willing to do and not willing to do is a question of his own conscience," the Vestavia Hills Republican said this week. "The choice is between money and life, and anyone who opposes (sanctions) is putting capital markets ahead of lives. It's blood money."

His proposed sanction: Close American financial markets to foreign oil companies doing business in the African nation, a move he believes would stem the cash flow to Muslims in the north accused of slaughtering Christians in the south.

Federal agencies are lining up in opposition, suggesting the sanction would damage the free-market economy. The situation is developing into Bachus' only serious spat with the White House since President Bush's arrival in January.

"Those decision-makers need to look in the mirror and decide whether they are willing to do what's necessary," Bachus said. "To me, making money off the slaughter in Sudan is unconscionable and inexcusable. We are financing the slaughter."

Reports from the area have linked oil profits to weaponry used by the Islamic forces in attacks that, according to some estimates, have led to 2 million deaths due to war or famine. U.S. oil companies are banned from Sudan, part of trade sanctions to protest the government-sponsored terrorism.

Bachus' amendment about the stock markets, attached to the Sudan Peace Act in June, is not part of the Senate version of the bill, and Congress will reconcile the two after returning to work next month. Bachus plans to continue lobbying, but the more attention the issue draws, the more opponents surface the State Department, the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan among them.

"Prohibiting access to capital markets in the United States would run counter to global United States support for open markets, would undermine our financial market competitiveness and could end up impeding the free flow of capital worldwide," Richard Boucher, spokesman for the State Department, said last week.

Greenspan told a Senate committee last month that while the motive of the sanction is commendable, it could hurt the long-term growth of the American economy. An analyst with the conservative Heritage Foundation warned the sanction could cause the oil companies' home countries to retaliate against the United States.

"It's a fair fight. It's me against everybody else the Senate and the administration. I feel pretty confident I'm going to be successful," Bachus said.

But Bachus does have a few allies.

The Congressional Black Caucus, which includes Rep. Earl Hilliard, D-Birmingham, has sided with the conservative white Southerner. It wrote Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle asking approval of Bachus' amendment.


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Old 08-21-2001, 09:40 PM   #2
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Also, some of you may recall that Congressman Bachus was one of the first allies Bono made when he embarked on his debt relief campaign, and introduced Bono to some of the powerbrokers on both sides of the aisle to get support for international debt relief.

Here is THE BIRMINGHAM NEWS' opinion from today's paper, encouraging support for Bachus' efforts regarding Sudan:

Backing Bachus

Plan would bring needed pressure on Sudan


American oil companies are already banned from doing business in Sudan. U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus wants to do more to press for change in the war-wracked African nation.

Bachus has proposed blocking foreign companies from being listed on U.S. stock exchanges if they engage in oil development in Sudan. He argues, rightly, that American investors should not unwittingly underwrite Sudan's murderous civil war or its persecution of Christians and other minorities.

"The government of Sudan uses its oil revenues not to help its citizens, but rather to buy tanks, jet fighters and helicopter gunships to bomb them," Bachus said.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed Bachus' amendments, which were tacked onto a bill that would provide aid to rebel forces in southern Sudan. But Bachus' ideas have met increasing opposition in the Senate and the Bush administration.

Critics argue that the United States is in the business of opening markets, not closing them. The State Department contends Bachus' measures could undermine U.S. financial markets and stem the flow of capital worldwide.

But this is one of those cases that justifies a departure from typical U.S. policy.

Sudan's Islamic government has waged war on its own citizens, leaving about 2 million dead from starvation or battle. Millions more have lost their homes. Meanwhile, Muslims from northern Sudan have enslaved thousands of Christians and other minorities.

Foreign oil companies such as Canada's Talisman Energy, Sweden's Lundin Oil and the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. are helping to bankroll these atrocities when they do business in Sudan. Oil production has doubled Sudan's defense budget over two years.

That's why it's appropriate to block these companies' access to U.S. financial markets or, as Bachus also has suggested, to force them to disclose their activities in Sudan to potential American investors.

These aren't new ideas for Bachus. He's been in this fight since former President Bill Clinton was in office. Admirably, he pressed on even when the fight shifted to the Republican Bush administration.

He is right to stick to his guns. The issue isn't about open markets and free trade. It's about human misery. More action is needed to stop the suffering in Sudan.

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Old 08-22-2001, 11:51 AM   #3
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I do find this interesting regarding Gulf of Mexico drilling.

So, U2Bama, do you normally support oil exploration? Be honest. Think about when Bush talked about exploring into the Alaskan wilderness to drill for oil. Did you find yourself supporting it? But now that it is in your own backyard, you are opposed to it. But, if you haven't realized it yet, all drilling sites are in someone's backyard.

Then we have the issue of alternative fuels to replace our reliance on oil. My greatest disappointment with the Bush administration is his seeming reliance on business and the old status quo to solve all of our problems--basically what is assured to make money and profit. Hasn't he figured out that almost everything we know today is due to unprofitable government intervention? I find it funny that we had all the incentive in the world with the Cold War to create everything from computers and space shuttles to microwaves and hair dryers to nuclear bombs and the internet--all from the government, mind you. And yet, here we are with the greatest potential to rid us from our energy and pollution problems--the development of hydrogen fuel--and Bush isn't taking any role to try and foster it (unsurprising as he is a former oil executive). Thank goodness we have countries like Germany to innovate and invent where America has become fat on profits and lazy on innovation.

And just imagine what hydrogen fuel would solve? We wouldn't have to worry about OPEC, we wouldn't have to worry about exploring into Alaskan wilderness for oil, we wouldn't have to worry about declining fossil fuel reserves, we wouldn't have to worry about feeding Sudan's seemingly endless war, we would eliminate 90% of our worries on air and water pollution, and we wouldn't have to worry about drilling in your own backyard.

But you won't get any of this with the Bush administration, as the assured destruction of the oil industries (and his own cronies inside) is not in his plans. Don't hold your breath on a trade embargo on Sudan. It is also like how when conservatives protested Clinton's desires to expand trade into China, as they saw China as a repeated violator of human rights (not to mention their horror of the One-Child rule and anything Communist in nature). Yet, where is Bush now to stop trade with China? Richard Boucher pretty much sums up Bush's true priorities. Everything is going exactly as I expected with Bush, which pretty much leaves mankind in the backseat.


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Old 08-22-2001, 09:52 PM   #4
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Melon, where were you when I posted my drilling-in-the-Gulf thread 3 or 4 months ago?

To answer your question, I do not actively "support" oil exploration anywhere. In fact, I would prefer if it did not take place in ANWR either. But lets look at the two exploration sites:

Alaska, home of the Alaska Nataional Wildlfe Refuge: exploration in this region has the support of BOTH U.S. Senators AND their at-large U.S. Congressman, as well as the Governor of Alaska (who happens to be a Democrat), organized labor, and much of the local community including some of the Natvive American groups. The area to be explored is in a barren valley within the ANWR that is covered with ice much of the year, not the "pristine" moutainous portions of the ANWR that are abundant with wildlife and evergreen foliage. In fact, the exploration area which was ultimately approved consists of only 2,000 surface acres.

Eastern Gulf of Mexico: Florida's U.S. Senate and Congressional delegations and the Republican Governor, Jeb Bush (GWB's brother)OPPOSED any drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, with Congressmen Scarborough (R-Pensacola) and Davis (D-Tampa) aponsoring legislation to permanently ban ALL drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. Also, the tourism and real estate industry opposed it as a threat to Florida's #1 attraction: beautiful beaches. SUPPORTERS for new drilling inlcuded interests from Alabama (Democratic Governor Don Siegleman), Mississippi (Republican Senator Trent Lott) and Louisiana (Democratic Senator and potential 2004 Presidential candidate John Breaux, who also supported ANWR drilling), mainly because all of this new petroleum and natural gas would ride a pipeline through and to their states and generate jobs for their oilman labor force, which Florida doesn't have.

As I stated above, I would prefer they not explore or drill in ANWR or the Gulf, but the limited scope of ANWR would be a safer alternative due to the fact that it is land-based drilling, and Gulf drilling would obviously be marine-based drilling. Any accident or spill on a landed rig is easier to capture and contain than one on a rig at sea. Considering the sizes of the 2 proposals, a mishap in the Gulf could be like the Exxon Valdez tragedy, while a mishap in ANWR would be more like a tanker truck overturning on the road. Trent Lott made the goofy comment that new oil rigs off the Florida coast would boost tourism due to "better fishing." While rigs do attract fish, he should remember that any accident would probably shut down commercial and recreational fishing for about 2 years. "Better fishing" spots can be created with artificial reefs which don't dig oil out of the ocean floor or emit exhaust plumes into the horizon (see: Dauphin Island, Alabama, which used to be pristine like Walton County, Florida is today, but is now littered with rigs wihtin a few hundred yards of the beach).

Also, I will concede that it is partially a "back yard" issue for me, but only to the extent that I have been more actively involved in my opposition to Gulf drilling. It's funny though how the only people I heard protesting the potential for drilling in the Gulf were my friends and family and Floridians; where were all of the ANWR-drilling opponents?

But back to the issue of this thread, Sudan is a disgrace in terms of slavery and religious and racial oppression. It involves a lot more than drilling near pretty beaches and wilderness areas. I hope EVERYONE would oppose what is going on there and in other places like Afghanistan and China (more on those places later), but I am glad to see my Congressman following his spiritual conscience and taking a stand.

Also, Melon: If you recall, I agreed with you about hydrogen power several months ago; I still think it needs further investigation, and no one needs to stand in the way of it. Did you know that former Pennsylavania Senator Robert Walker, a Republican, sponsored the Hydrogen Future Act which Clinton signed in 1997?


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