Dems and High Oil Prices

While oil and gasoline prices continue to rise, the rhetoric and actions of Democrats in Congress seem destined to push those costs even higher, contrary to the Dems' promise that they used to get elected to majorities in 2006 that they had "a common-sense plan to help bring down skyrocketing gas prices".

Investor's Business Daily has a continuing series on "Breaking the Back of High Oil", and today's edition has a fascinating breakdown of some of the actions that the Democrats have taken over the last three decades or so to ensure that our country has no defense against the effects of rising oil prices. While doing so, they've made us all captives of OPEC and such tinpot dictatorships such as Venezuela.

Today's editorial in the series, Who Is Really Responsible For The High Prices You Pay For Gasoline?, points out that we have attempted to get Congressional approval for drilling in Alaska's ANWR region for the last 28 years. Remember that the next time a Democrat brings up the "fact" that it will take 10 years to get ANWR on line - if President Clinton hadn't vetoed ANWR drilling the time that it evaded blocking maneuvers by Democrats and got through a Republican controlled Congress in the mid-90s, we'd be in the second or third year of active production from that oil field. Any such domestic drilling would have produced substantial downward pressure on international oil prices set by the cartels - so in addition to having our own new source of oil, prices we pay internationally today would have been cheaper.

Other actions during the past few decades that the Democrats (and a few stray Republicans) have taken to ensure that we have high energy prices include:

For the past 31 years, Congress repeatedly prevented us from building any new oil refineries that we now badly need.

More recently, congressional Democrats defeated and discouraged any bill that would let us drill in the deep sea 100 miles out. However, it's somehow OK for China to drill there.

As a further indictment of our Congress, since the 1980s it has continually stopped all building of nuclear power plants while France, Germany and, yes, Japan, plus 12 other major nations, did build plants and now get 20% to 80% of their energy from their wise and safe nuclear plant investments.

From 1990 to 2000, U.S. crude oil demand rapidly accelerated by 7.41 quadrillion BTUs, according to Department of Energy data. And our rate of foreign oil dependency dramatically increased while our domestic oil production steadily declined.

Under the eight Clinton years alone, U.S. oil production declined 1,349,000 barrels per day, or 19%, while our foreign imports increased 3,574,000 barrels per day, or 45%.

The offshore drilling debacle is particularly goading. Cuba made a huge offshore discovery of oil in 2006, 50 miles or less off the coast of Florida. As it's in Cuban territory, that country has sold off blocks for development to Venezuela and China. Correctly assuming that the United States was best equipped to drill responsibly in that area (thus protecting Florida's coastline), Republicans in Congress introduced the "Western Hemisphere Energy Security Act of 2006", which would have allowed US companies to lease that land in Cuba's territorial waters. The bill was killed before hearings were even held on it.

With the enormous amount of information available to the public on Congress' actions (or inactions) on energy policy over the past 30 years, it should be easy to paint Democrats as the "owners" of high oil and gasoline prices. As for alternative energy sources other than nuclear that everyone seems to be pushing, there's no guarantee that any of those will 1) be a viable large-scale substitute of energy derived from fossil fuels, and 2) result in cheaper energy. And remember the law of unintended consequences. Ethanol was sold to the American public as a cleaner and cheaper alternative to gasoline. It is neither, and the demand for corn-based ethanol has had the added impact of increasing food costs worldwide.

As the IBD editorial states, "It's wake-up time for America. Maybe we should investigate the blame-throwing investigators in Congress."
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