I think they are going to let the price rise until the general public screams “uncle”, and supports them drilling in ANWR, off our coasts and anywhere else they think they might find a drop of oil. They will say to hell with the environment, just drill and find more oil.
–from a comment here @ Crooks&Liars
I’m enough of a pessimist these days to believe the above sentiment is fairly on track. Surfing the internetotubulars today, you may be drawn to the same conclusion. Because clearly, clearly, not one of these people in Washington knows what the hell they’re doing.
Let’s start with the glaring display of public stupidity as reported on yahoo:
Senate Republicans blocked a proposal Tuesday to tax the windfall profits of the largest oil companies, despite pleas by Democratic leaders to use the measure to address America’s anger over $4 a gallon gasoline.
The problem here isn’t that Congress failed to tax the oil companies. The problem lies in attempting to rewrite laws after profits have been made in order to save face, which is what the Democrats did in this case. If the oil companies are involved in price fixing, market manipulation, profiteering, or other schemes reminiscent of the Baronies of old, then publicly accuse them of such crimes and penalize them appropriately. Imposing an unwise tax that will inevitably get passed on as yet another increase in consumer prices does nothing but score political points among the “easily gullible” constituency. It will not alleviate the problem of oil dependency, nor will it address the inadequate supply or the overwhelming demand. Quit complaining about how much money they made within the system you politicians dreamed up, and fix the system itself.
This, alas, is what politicians do. Address the symptoms, not the problem. They roll all of the bad ideas into the same bill as the good ideas and succeed in getting none of them passed. Brilliant.
Separately, Democrats also failed to get Republican support for a proposal to extend tax breaks for wind, solar and other energy efficiency and conservation. The tax breaks have either expired or are scheduled to end this year., and for the promotion of
At a time when we are gasping for energy amidst record worldwide demand, investment in alternative energy resources is one of the wisest tax incentives I can think of. Yet because it was bundled with the bungled “record profit tax,” these tax incentives are going to expire, leaving researchers at the end of the proverbial rope.
The Republicans are just as complicit in this idiocy as the Democrats, if not moreso. The overwhelming sentiment among many Republicans seems to be that if we allow drilling in ANWR, then *poof!* we will have an instant fix to the fuel crisis. (In other words, let’s go back to blaming it all on Bill Clinton.)
Did you see me roll my eyes just then? Next Republican to say ANWR/Clinton to me gets slapped for stupidity. Fair warning.
Unless you believe the ultraconservative accounts that say “drill all over the damned place, and we just might find some more oil up there,” the by even the most truthful and optimistic estimates, ANWR contains only enough oil to supply us for about twenty years. And that’s
- after the drills start and the supply line is established
- if the oil pipeline proves defensible considering the length it will need to be
- if, and only if, we have increased domestic refining capacity. The last domestic oil refinery here was built in 1976. When I was 3 years old.
As with most problems facing Americans today, our solutions are not all or nothing, but that’s the tenor set by our Congress. ANWR is not the only place we can drill, and the dangers to wildlife are slimmer when we are willing to consider offshore drilling. As George Will points out in this ridiculously slanted column in the Washington Post,
Offshore? Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed or damaged hundreds of drilling rigs without causing a large spill. There has not been a significant spill from an offshore U.S. well since 1969. Of the more than 7 billion barrels of oil pumped offshore in the past 25 years, 0.001 percent — that is one-thousandth of 1 percent — has been spilled. Louisiana has more than 3,200 rigs offshore — and a thriving commercial fishing industry.
So while the Chinese and Cubans drill oil 60 miles off the Florida coast (some of which may be flowing from oil fields deep beneath territorial Florida), we stand by and do nothing but complain about how the Arabic countries in OPEC aren’t drilling to give us enough of their oil for a cheap price.
Funny. I don’t see anyone telling Ferrari that their cars are too expensive, so they should make more and sell them for a cheaper price. And that any investment in efficiencies they make from now on (and that we so obviously, desperately need) is without tax incentives that we’ve been promising them.
Probably because that’s more obviously stupid.