5/13/2011 – The Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Triangle has gained a new distinction: Biggest gas guzzling metro area in the nation, according to Forbes. The Triad and Charlotte metro areas are also in the top 10. As Big Oil profits soar and gas prices approach $4 at the pump, more people and politicians are wondering how the industry can justify receiving a $4.4 billion annual tax subsidy from the rest of us. The industry says the money is needed to help domestic exploration and energy independence, but business experts say the industry would explore as much without the subsidy because of other favorable business conditions in the U.S. The subsidy is better understood as a return on investing in political protection: To protect its loopholes and other special favors, the oil and gas industry spent $30 million on campaign contributions and $145 million on lobbying federal policymakers in 2010. To put that in simpler math, imagine if you could invest $175 and get back $4,400 in one year! The investment also diverts Congress from adopting sensible regulations to prevent the next BP explosion and helps elect more legislators willing to be puppets. The more Big Oil and Big Bizness can control elections, the better off they are, which is one reason their puppets also champion measures to make voting more difficult. The Big Biz/Art Pope puppets in the NC House took a swipe at working-class voters yesterday by deciding to cut a week off the Early Voting period. NC Policy Watch has a short summary and video clip of the debate.