Time to pay the piper in Oilmarks

              In the world of quid pro quo government sooner or later the piper always gets paid. Worry if you will about taxes going up for this or that. Worry if you will about the price of gas or teachers loosing their ability to have bargaining unions. But do not worry about those getting reimbursed who fund campaigns. Their latest payback comes is a word you have probably never heard of; “Oilmarks!”

             You for sure remember earmarks. Little bundles of money attached to funding bills that went to the elected community back home. Massive amounts of home town support that could not be cut away from a funding bill without having the whole bill collapse. The practice went on for years, until the lack of bipartisanship among the lawmakers ruined it for everyone. “If you tell on me, I’ll tell on you!”  You get the picture. Oilmarks are similar, but an oilmark is not about money, it’s about legislation. And the true beauty of this is the legislator can vote on one, but the oilmark itself never gets discussed in open public. Thus you have no idea, it ever went down!

            Oilmarks like earmarks are similarly untouchable without changing the structure of the bill. They are attached to funding much the same way earmarks were. Only in this case, the oilmark is a resolution attached to the legislation that frees certain corporations and businesses from obeying the laws of the land. Intentional efforts, one might call payback, to help businesses avoid laws on the books that they think hamper their ability to do business. The legislator gets to show those who supported his campaign, he helped their business out. The businesses get some breathing room from what they call unnecessary restrictions they didn’t need in the first place. At least according to them and their bottom line!

            Conservatively speaking the use of oilmarks is just what the doctor ordered. Like adding ice cream to cake, this is a sweet deal for all involved, except for those not invited to the party. That would be you Joe Public!        This year so far, 14 oilmarks have been added to bills that among other things, has allowed increased air pollution overriding the Clean Water Act. One oilmark close to home for me addresses new rules and guidelines that would have prevented hazardous fly ash from being contained in large lagoons. Remember the Tennessee disaster in 2008? A Fly ash lagoon broke and flooded hundreds of acres spreading the ash and all the chemicals contained there over an entire community.

             Right now the oilmarks are just getting their legs, so to speak. They are going after the environmental regulations that handcuff companies from making better profits. According to old school thinking, acting green always cost more money than doing nothing at all. Once again we are reminded that we live in a world of short term profit and the bottom line this quarter is more important than the next one; at least for now.

            If you have never heard of an oilmark, I invite you to contact your local Congressman and ask him what is going on. After all, in an age where teachers are held accountable for states going broke, isn’t about time we held them responsible for the laws they pass?


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