Friday, April 21, 2006

This Issue is a Gas

Today’s New York Times is running a piece by Michael Janofsky about how eager the issue-hungry Democratic party has become to exploit the angst over fuel prices….In Minnesota, Democratic Senate candidate Amy Klobuchar is making the issue the centerpiece of her campaign. Ms. Klobuchar says it "is one of the first things people bring up" at her campaign stops.

Riddle me this, Ms. Kobluchar—what can you do about it? How much about the issue do you understand?

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which advises House candidates, sent a memo out to candidates with ideas for using this issue to their advantage. The piece includes a "sample statement" recommending candidates tell you, "Americans are tired of giving billion-dollar tax subsidies to energy companies and foreign countries while paying record prices at the pump." Right there is where the Dems and I part company.

What we do not need is more divisiveness on another issue; what we need are sound measures for solving the problem. Do you find it troubling that anytime there’s a problem to be solved, instead of seeking a solution, these guys look for a scapegoat?

How many years have been spent advocating policies that would reduce the reliance on imported oil? How much time has been invested promoting more domestic energy production?
Remember the energy bill that President Bush signed last August, which encouraged conservation and greater use of ethanol in gasoline? The reality is that the law could have done more for domestic oil supplies if Democrats had not fought so hard against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Granted, drilling in the ANWR is not the be-all end-all solution, but it’s a step in the right direction, and certainly more productive of a solution instead of driving wedges into every fissure that can be found.

Do you find it telling that the same Democrats who are so eager to blame Republicans for the situation did little to advance energy measures in the eight years their boy was in the White House.
Guess he was drilling for something else.
And gasoline was “cheap” by today’s prices.

Ideas for greater investment in "clean fuel" technologies, more incentives for driving fuel-efficient vehicles, and stronger steps toward reducing emissions of greenhouse gases certainly have merit, but are long term approaches; they’re not going to make $4/gallon gasoline go away any time soon.

The irony is that the inability of congress to work harmoniously on this issue is why we’re paying more for gasoline with no MBTE and limited ethanol additive to go around. Great thinking, Mensa’s.

By the way--more than 30 Democratic House members opposed the Republican version of the energy bill last year...but there were 75 Democrats in the House and 25 in the Senate who did vote to pass Mr. Bush's bill.

Another thoughtful brainstorm in the Democrat’s memorandum to candidates is to hold a campaign event at a gas station. Let’s think about that flash of brilliance: the public is concerned about price and ease of access for gasoline. So who wants to go out and block-up a neighborhood gas station with a bunch of press and security…thus killing off customer traffic for the poor small-business operator of that store for an afternoon?
The party for the little guy?
The party for Everyman?
How self-serving.
How inconsiderate.
How typically hypocritical.

A survey by Public Agenda, a nonpartisan research organization, in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs says 90 percent of Americans viewed the lack of energy independence as a risk to security, that 88 percent said problems abroad were endangering supplies and increasing prices, and that 85 percent believed that the federal government could do something if it tried.

Six months ago, the war in Iraq alone generated such levels of concern.

The Dems will try to make an explicit connection to some Republican Senator who they say could have done more but didn't. Their bet is that the message will resonate among voters. That’s a strategy that could backfire terribly when the Democrats’ resistance to the President’s energy bill is revealed.

Never mind the facts, just feed the emotion.

Into this politically-charged, polarized atmosphere gallops former Vice President Al Gore with a documentary about global warming seeking more aggressive steps to cut tailpipe emissions. Wonder if he’ll arrive in his emission-spewing heavily-armored SUV, surrounded by a phalanx of Harley-mounted patrolmen and fuel-fixated stretch limos? Watch what they do, not what they say.

The good news is that high gasoline prices are creating more of an incentive to conserve — which is what environmentalists have tried to achieve through proposals like higher taxes on energy. That is totally the wrong approach.

Where does the impact of high-priced gas hit hardest? In suburban and rural districts, where families are forced to drive greater distances for routine needs. How do those regions typically vote? Red State.

Who wants to pay even MORE for a commodity that is a necessity?
Do the math.

The fact is, both parties face real dangers over fuel cost issues this election cycle.
It’s going to be instrumental to look at the records of the various mouthpieces of both parties for guidance on how they’ve really acted in contrasting the message of the moment they’ll be espousing this Summer and Fall.

Meanwhile, energy companies should take note of the sentiment. Historically, business sectors who fail to conduct business responsibly in the past have incurred the micromanagement of congress.

Oil companies would do well to re-invest--in a very public way--a larger part of their profits into domestic R&D. Already there is a a bill that would take back tax credits from energy companies, and require a doubling of investments in ethanol and other renewable fuels.


ray said...

Hi Brent:
I had to respons to this blog. In Texas there are oil fields in the east,west,and in the gulf. So why are a majority of the on land wells capped? It's not enviromental regulations,and there is a substanial reserve in and around Odessa-Midland,which UT and A&M draw most of their funding. There are wells around Tyler, Carthage, Hull, Batson,Kilgore that are sitting ,waiting for the caps to go off. It too is not an enviromental issue stopping them. One other state is Wyoming with some wells capped,plus there is an abundance of shale in the mountains that can have oil extracted from them. It was noted back in 1974 that such a technology existed. one more state up state Pennsylvania has some wells that are alos capped. When I watch the news the other day and there was a trader dealing in oil watching the price surge he jumped for joy,and wanted it to go higher. He reminded me of the President of Iran,who said in so many words this week;"The price of oil is still too cheap". We have the reserves,but we are not using them and ANWAR does not have enough according to geologist from the 4 major petroleum companies. Imagine if the wells were uncapped and the shale oil was extracted,Anwar would look like a small brook in comparison. It's greed,and deregulation gone wild that are the two main culprits. So many jobs are going to suffer,tourism,trucking,restaurantsRetail likewise will suffer as household budgets are cut and items on the store shelves have to pass on the added cost of shipping.
The other problem contributing to this crisis(and it is ) is allowing refineries to go off line at the same time instead of scheduling them in succession,thus averting a shortage. Many Gas stations in Dallas as of today ( April 21) do not have gas supplies,they are out.
The solution is open those wells up on shore here in our country,take the caps off. Get ethanol production moving .Quit talking,start doing. Have some form of regulation reintroduced to prohibit gas gouging,refinery shutdown,and monitoring of inventories rather than leading that to the companies themselves. It worked well before 1979,then Carter signed a bill deregulating it.Its been a festering blister since,and now it has popped giving our wallets poison in return. Finally it is time to use the Strategic Petroleum reserve once again,to replenish our supplies and lower the prices. That will not happen,with an "oil" person in the Whitehouse and while his blind trust grows.(He's thinking about it.let's not kid ourselves).
If a Democrat was in The Whitehouse,the GOP would use the same campaign tactics that current Democratics are suggesting. You can take that to Vegas ,Shreveport,and Bossier.
Harry Truman nationalized the railroads for a short period to avert a crisis caused by a strike. Nationalization is a far stretch for the petroleum industry,but let's call it for what it is,we have a national emergency on our hands,whether we want to openly admit it or not. Nationalization will bring cries of socialism/communism,but like the railraod action,it could be enough of a jolt to set the supplies and price right. Hard core capitalists will reject it outright without looking at it objectively. The sands have about run out of the hour glass,and it's time to act,regardless of party affiliation or campaign contributions. The country is at stake and at last look the flag had both the red and blue waving in unison.

Chuck said...

Amen about the Democrats but the Republicans are not much better. All their talk about what they were gonna do when they took over Congress has not come about. Having voted Republican since the early 60's, I will vote for independent candidates in the future starting with Kinky Freidman who is gonna send troops to the border,cut property taxes and other such things that the present govenor should be doing instead of raising taxes when we have a multi-billion dollar surplus.