The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

October 3, 2011

Tea and gas don't mix well

I reached down and felt the ground. It didn’t feel like hell had frozen over.

But maybe I’m wrong.

The Northeast Pennsylvania Tea Party is launching robo-calls, bashing congressmen Tom Marino, R-10, of Cogan Station, and Lou Barletta, R-9, of Hazleton, diehard conservative Republicans who have often identified themselves as members of the Tea Party.

In fact, it’s their Tea-esque rhetoric that helped get them elected, many observers have said.

So, why would the herd be turning against their own?

Two words: Natural gas.

PoliticsPA reports that Marino and Barletta are co-sponsors of legislation — H.R. 1380, the NAT GAS Act — that would create tax incentives and subsidies to encourage the use and production of natural gas vehicles.

“We were fans of Barletta and Marino,” NEPA Tea Party leader Bob Orbin told PoliticsPA. “And it’s disappointing to see them backing these types of plans whey they say they back the free market.”

When Marino was in to speak with us about a month ago, he came off as being a huge backer of the free market. But he also was an even bigger backer of creating jobs and encouraging the natural gas industry.

Marcellus Shale, where much of the gas boom in Pennsylvania is coming from, is the future, he said.

Heck, even Sen. Pat Toomey, also a conservative Republican, said he’d back similar legislation that encouraged creating natural gas stations. He told us so, on camera, when he stopped in a few weeks ago.

With unemployment running nearly 9 percent in the Central Susquehanna Valley, I can certainly see why our lawmakers are backing anything that supports Marcellus Shale jobs.

So, why is the Tea Party against the bill?

It’s likely going to cost $5 billion in subsidies over five years, according to website OpenCongress.org.

In an email to Marino and Barletta, the Tea Partiers said that’s too much.

“The national debt is now over $14 trillion, which will soon to be over $17 trillion; and, with the federal government having to borrow over 40 percent of every dollar spent … the Tea Party and the conservative movement did not send conservative members to Washington, D.C., to have them ‘gift’ taxpayer dollars (in the form of subsidies) to political entrepreneurs like T. Boone Pickens or to further interfere with the free market.”

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