Sen. Richard Durban of Illinois was troubled that the CEO’s of Exxon, Shell, BP, et al, might not be troubled about high energy prices. "What have you done to us?" he squawked yesterday.
Perhaps Durban should be more troubled about what that his own colleagues have done to us—and domestic oil production—by imposing restrictions on the oil companies’ exploration efforts, and creating a regulatory morass that has hampered effective growth of refining capacity. Me thinks the Senator doth protest too much.
Their answers to higher gasoline prices?
Stop filling the strategic petroleum reserve.
Suspend fuel taxes between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Encourage the growth of corn for fuel instead of food.
Halting strategic petroleum reserve additions would only divert a 2-months’ supply of oil away from the storage facilities, and into the production pipeline. Suspending fuel taxes would create a domino-effect of economic horrors, resulting in higher unemployment, stimulate additional gasoline consumption, and stall vital maintenance to the national highway system. And growing corn for fuel has resulted in a pair of unintended consequences: Higher food prices borne from the scarcity of grain, and higher consumption of fuel because the ethanol-mixed stuff produces less energy than the real stuff.
Stoopid Stoopid Stoopid.
I spoke this week with Jane Van Ryan at the American Petroleum Institute, an organization unabashedly all about promoting the interests of the oil companies. (Don’t turn up your nose on that notion: this is not an us vs them issue. It’s a problem WE all must reckon with.)
Ms. Van Ryan correctly identified the primary culprit in all of these arguments, debates, and congressional hearings: Energy Illiteracy. Just as Literacy has been a core social issue in this country—if you cannot read or write, you are a burden to society—so is energy illiteracy a core economic issue.
My friend, Keith Fitz-Gerald, at Money-Morning, correctly identifies this as a Supply and Demand issue—meaning, there are things we should be doing on both sides of that equation.
Why can’t we create incentives for less consumption at the pump, instead of funding the diversion of food stock for fuel stock (thank you, Corn lobbyists)?
If Congress is so gung-ho to meddle in the oil business, why not place a moratorium on speculators driving up oil prices. What the flip does a company like Goldman Sachs have to do with holding oil futures? Last I checked, they didn’t have a refinery in the corporate parking garage. The point is, let the oil producers and refiners manage the supply of crude without interference from the money grubbers on Wall Street, who don’t have any skin in the game.
There are a lot of smart people in this country who could, with the proper funding and incentives, create doable, viable alternatives to lessen our dependence on imported oil.
Congress should get off their high horses and listen to what the oil companies have been telling them for years: Open more land to exploration and development, reduce demand by incentivizing conservation, and fund the researchers who can use their brain power to think our way out of this mess.
What's so hard to understand about that?
Contrary to the previous post, I am still looking for work.
Check me out on the link below.