Don’t Get Me Started, Regulars and Shorts

Don’t Get Me Started: May 2012

By John deJong

Tesoro Refinery; Republican Spampaign Tricks.

Tesoro: Keeping Their Grandfather Alive
Who grants the right to pollute? 

Tesoro’s plan to expand its north Salt Lake refinery has environmentalist up in arms. This upgrade and a similar one at the much smaller Holly refinery in Woods Cross are necessary, Tesoro says, to process the extremely thick oil coming from eastern Utah’s crud oil fields. It seems we’ve been sucking on this straw so long that we’re down to slurping waxy chunks. The problem is they intend to increase the amount of hazardous Volatile Organic Compounds they will be emitting.

Tesoros’s argument is this: Because, in the past, they have reduced emissions below their permitted levels, they should now be allowed to increase the volume of pollutants back up to their permitted levels.

Those who profit at the expense of the environment we live in believe the right to pollute exists and that those rights can be bought and sold, even banked. I’m not sure how that works. Do they get an annual bank statement with a positive balance of three dead grannies, a dozen cases of COPD and a hundred cases of asthma a year?

This “right to pollute” stems from concessions to the polluting industry, which allows them to continue polluting at existing rates whenever pollution regulations are tightened. This is called the “grandfather clause,” but it’s been better than Santa Claus to polluting industries like Tesoro and Rio Tinto, which recently got permission from the Utah Bureaucracy of Air Inequality (UBAIQ, names have been changed to protect the polluter’s accomplices) to cash in a big chunk of their banked pollution credits.

The irony, for many Utahns, is that it was pollution, from Tesoro and other polluters, that probably finished off their grandfathers.

Governor Gary Herbert can, if he has the backbone and the best interests of Utah’s citizens in mind, direct the Utah Bureaucracy of Air Inequality to put Utahns health ahead of the profit motive of polluters like Tesoro—who, by the way, expects a two-year return on investment on its $180 million. That means that in two years Tesoro will be making an approximately $90 million annual profit on area citizens’ lungs.

But I’ll bet $235,000 that he won’t— and, coincidently, so has the “energy industry.” That’s how much money they’ve donated to Governor Herbert, or rather to Governor Herbert’s campaign committee in the last 16 months.

Republican Spampaign Tricks

Igot a letter from the Republican party the other day. It lay in my inbox for a week before curiosity got the best of me. I opened it. It said they thought I was a sucker. It told me I was “THE DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVE of VOTERS residing in my district.” Their caps. “After compiling and modeling demographic information for the thousands of activists in our database,” they told me, I had been “…selected to represent voters in your area in the OFFICIAL 2012 Presidential Platform Survey.”

They even included a pre-paid postage envelope with my registration number, 1017.10163365, pre-printed on the front. Which is kind of strange, since it was a window envelope and the only place my name and address were printed out was on the first page of the enclosed four-page supplication. My guess is that the Republican party has 50 million “DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVEs of VOTERS” on their spampaign list. My second guess is that “my district” consists of about a tenth of a block.

If a registered (I presume) Republican isn’t ready to spontaneously send a generous campaign donation in the Republican party’s direction by the time they get to the end of the survey, the last half page of the two-page survey is devoted to various “support” options. Starting at $35, ranging to $500, and, the big ask: “Other $____.” I was thinking of contributing $1, but it wouldn’t be worth the bank transaction fee.

I was probably on this particular spampaign list because I’m officially registered as a Republican. I don’t believe I’ve ever voted for a Republican in my life except for the one time I was running in a primary for the school board: The only other race on the ballot was a Republican primary race, but I needed to be a registered Republican to vote in that race so I decided to register as a Republican. That small act has been a reliable source of entertainment ever since.

Who says being a registered Republican doesn’t have its advantages? I was chuckling for a week until I realized that this is what “democracy” has come to in this country.

If I’m not feeling like a one-percenter right now as I read this letter, they’ve included an additional option to send in the filled-out “…Document” with a “…sponsoring contribution of $15 to help cover tabulating my Survey.”

Fifteen dollars to cover tabulation? Even if they’ve got a very slow pre-law intern (I mean lazy, not stupid) with a high billable rate opening the responses and it takes a nano-whisker of a computer’s time to”tabulate,” my part in this scam didn’t put the Republican party out more than a buck.

Oh flip, the P.S. says I have to return the survey to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus within seven days. I guess I’ve missed my big chance to change the course of the Republican party this year. 

This article was originally published on April 25, 2012.