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Ellison Wants Better Drone Policy, Fewer Oil Subsidies

The fifth district congressman tackled two complex issues over the last several days.

In the aftermath of news that 35 Pakistanis have been killed so far this year by unmanned U.S. aerial vehicles—drones—Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) is calling on Congress to play a role in reforming existing policy governing the machines.

Ellison addressed the matter in an opinion piece published in The Washington Post, noting that drones have yielded positive results for the military. Still, he said it's time for Congress to "exercise oversight and craft policies that govern the use of lethal force."

The heart of the problem is that our technological capability has far surpassed our policy. As things stand, the executive branch exercises unilateral authority over drone strikes against terrorists abroad. In some cases, President Obama approves each strike himself through “kill lists.” While the president should be commended for creating explicit rules for the use of drones, unilateral kill lists are unseemly and fraught with hazards.

In the guest column, Ellison laid out three important aspects any sort of framework governing drone actions should include:

  1. Do more to avoid any innocent civilian casualties.
  2. Require an independent judicial review of any executive-branch "kill list."
  3. The U.S. must collaborate with the international community to develop a widely accepted set of legal standards.

Ellison Sees Potential Cuts for Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Ellison was also outspoken late last week in a guest column on The Huffington Post, saying Congress should "embrace the idea of ridding ourselves of wasteful giveaways to the fossil fuel industry."

The Master Limited Partnership is an obscure but harmful multibillion dollar loophole that allows fossil fuel companies to avoid all income taxes on transportation or processing of fossil fuels -- things like oil pipelines. Renewable energy companies don't have the same option, meaning the taxpayer is subsidizing polluters at the expense of cleaner, renewable energy. The total cost to the taxpayer? $2.4 billion dollars every 5 years. Now, some folks propose to extend the Master Limited Partnership to green industries. That's fine, but what about leveling the playing field and cutting the deficit at the same? 

The fifth district congressman said any governmental cuts should reflect the priorities and needs of the United States, not allow "oil companies [to] get away with more."

"Rather than cutting important lifelines like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, let's cut corporate tax loopholes like the Master Limited Partnership," he wrote. "The five largest oil companies made more than $1 trillion in profits in the last decade. They don't need our help."

Dennis Gillespie January 15, 2013 at 05:21 PM
Ellison seems to get his terminology in correct. I would like for him to tell us what subsidies the oil companies get and then look at the true mean of subsidies the green energy projects get and waste
mike savick April 09, 2013 at 01:25 PM
A tax deduction means you don't pay tax on money you have spent. A tax credit is the same as cash. A tax deduction is what most of us and most businesses get for expenses. The local plumbing business deducts the cost of labor, materials, rent etc because these are the costs of doing business. Only the profit is taxed. Tax credits come off the final tax bill and some mean a government check if the credit exceeds the tax bill.
David F April 09, 2013 at 02:00 PM
The intent of tax credits is to stimulate typically new industries or give incentives like the R&D tax credit to encourage companies to do R&D. If you look at the billions of dollars of wealth being created in the North Dakota oil industry I don't think they need any tax credits.
Michael Hindin April 09, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Solyndra, while a large chunk of money represented a 1% failure in that segment of the budget. Most industries would be very happy if thery were 99% successful in their decisions. All of that money was spent in the US. Part of the Solyndra failure was due to Chinese dumping of below cost solar cells. We need to address unfair trade tactics more aggresively. As consumers we should try to buy more American products even if the initial cost is more. The loss of American job due to "cheap" Chinese goods is costing our commuities dearly.
Michael Hindin April 09, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Solyndra was founded in 2005 during the Bush presidency. The failed loan guarantees were an attempt to save a portion of the solar energy industry that we need for ecconomic and strategic reasons. American manufacturing skills and capacity were deciding factors in warfare over the last 100 years. America needs a diverse energy base that is tougher to disrupt ecconomically or otherwise.

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