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New hot GOP thing: Voting for oil subsidies, then saying you oppose them

Three's a trend, so we're officially calling oil subsidy doubletalk the Instagram of this season's GOP. First John Boehner said oil companies "ought to be paying their fair share," until his handlers stepped in and told everyone he didn't mean it and oil companies definitely shouldn't do anything fair at all. Now two more representatives, Daniel Webster of Florida and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, are joining the chorus of Republicans who are totally willing to cluck about oil company subsidies, as long as it doesn't mean voting against them.  Webster told ThinkProgress that "any kind of corporate welfare is on the …

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BP’s still making bank

Looks like the past year hasn't been so bad after all for BP, which today reported a 16 percent increase in profits over the first quarter of 2010. The company reported $7.2 billion in net earnings -- compared to $6.2 billion for the first three months of last year. The company sold off a bunch of assets in order to pay for the Gulf oil disaster, which is how they managed to keep the profits up. BP also hasn't been drilling in the deepwater since that whole giant oil catastrophe it unleashed last year. But to still report an increase …

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Boehner supports cutting oil subsidies for five whole minutes

Apparently the whole "we support handing out bags full of money to the rich because we care about the little guy" act is harder to keep up than we'd realized. Put John Boehner under a little pressure about oil company subsidies and he buckles like a belt. ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl got the speaker to admit that oil companies "ought to be paying their fair share," that "big oil companies don't need to have the oil depletion allowances" (roughly a $1 billion annual subsidy) and that "we should be looking at" Obama's proposals to cut oil company tax breaks. …

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Desperate sprawl developer gives away cars with houses

Desperate measures.My head nearly exploded at the breakfast table on Saturday morning. I was reading a piece in The New York Times about an Illinois developer who has finally found a way to unload the new houses he has built some 50 miles from downtown Chicago, in a place he has seen fit to dub a "Village of Yesteryear." When drastic price cuts weren't enough to entice buyers, he decided to throw in $17,000 cash toward the purchase of a car with every house. (That money can only be spent at the local General Motors dealer, of course -- because, …

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High gas prices mean Exxon will make more money than any publicly held company in history this year

Exxon's earnings are expected to go up 50 percent this year, reports the Wall Street Journal. What was Washington's response? The House GOP voted overwhelmingly to protect the billions in taxpayer subsidies oil and gas companies receive. So let's see … you're paying Exxon at the pump, and you're also paying them on tax day. It's almost as if our entire transportation system renders us indentured servants to the producers of our energy. That's not a joke, just an attempt to describe the corporate neo-feudalism our bought-and-sold political apparatus churns out like so much blood sausage.

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Washington is lying to you about the cause of high gas prices

When it comes to the causes of high prices for gasoline, Washington is reaching truly epic levels of mendacity. Last Thursday, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) aimed to "set the record straight on America's oil" in a Washington Post op-ed that was completely jam-packed with BS. Murkowski, along with countless other congresscritters on both sides of the aisle, is a big fan of using the gasoline crisis as an excuse to expedite oil and gas drilling in the U.S. She called out Obama for noting that the U.S. has only 2 percent of the world's proven oil and gas reserves. You …

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How the bicycle economy can help us beat the energy crisis

This is the fifth column in a series focusing on the economics of bicycling. Libya. Bahrain. Iraq. Afghanistan. Canada. Fukushima. North Dakota. The Gulf Coast. Pennsylvania. Each of these stories stands alone as an urgent parable about our increasingly fragile reliance on affordable, plentiful energy. Take them together, and the myth of abundant fuel that our economy relies on falls to pieces all at once. What if there were some source of energy that could replace a substantial part of our current consumption? One that didn't rely on coal, or on corn, or on fast-track investment in renewables? One with negligible …

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BP spends restitution money on lawsuits and lobbying

By now, we all know BP has been painfully tightfisted about helping to rebuild the lives and livelihoods ruined in last year's oil spill. They agreed to pay $20 billion in damages but have only squeezed out $6 billion so far. But what do you expect them to do? They need that money to spend on lobbying and litigation! The anniversary of the spill brought two fun announcements from the company about their priorities. First, they've already spent $2 billion this year lobbying the government -- including nagging them to end the offshore drilling moratorium, speed up the permitting process, …

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‘BP hasn’t made people whole’

The Gulf oil disaster largely disappeared from the headlines last August, after the well was finally capped and the federal government declared that most of the oil was "gone." For Gulf coast residents, though, the nightmare was just beginning. A year later, business hasn't come back for many in fishing and tourism, and the compensation check from BP still hasn't arrived. In the areas closest to the shores, people are reporting health problems consistent with exposure to chemicals. Dead turtles, dolphins, and fish are still washing ashore. So are tar balls. So while most of the country has moved on, …

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One year after the BP oil spill, dangers remain

A year ago, the American public, government regulators, and Gulf of Mexico families had been lulled into a false sense of security over the safety of offshore drilling and the ability of the oil industry to respond in the event of a severe spill. After years of systemic complacency and mismanagement by the U.S. government and the oil companies, weeks of poor decision-making on the part of BP and its partners in the ill-fated Macondo oil well, and a few moments of deadly horror one year ago on the Deepwater Horizon, everything known about deepwater drilling changed utterly. On the …