On your next trip to the pump, consider the real culprits behind those high gas prices and quit complaining about the oil companies. Yesterday, the US House of Representatives killed measures that would have allowed drilling on the contintental shelf for natural gas and oil. Then they went one better interfering with the leases for companies that have already drilled offshore.
Last week, a House panel approved a measure to allow offshore drilling, but the full House reversed that proposal on a vote of 217-203. In related action, the House overwhelmingly rejected a proposal that would have allowed offshore drilling for oil.
The House also moved to bar energy companies from getting new federal leases for offshore drilling, unless they renegotiate their contracts.
So which objective of the three I noted does this serve?
Public health? Not likely. Certainly oil spills are always a possibility as long as we use 20 million barrels a day of oil, but no one has presented any evidence that oil is less likely to spill from a tanker bringing in Saudi oil than from a tanker making the much shorter trip from an offshore rig or from the rig itself.
National security? Maintaining US dependence on foreign sources for a major strategic and economic asset doesn’t seem to be much help to national security.
Poverty? Dragging down the economy with higher than necessary oil and gas prices certainly doesn’t seem to help that issue much. In fact, according to the Houston Chronicle, “The National Association of Manufacturers has estimated that over the last five years, 3.1 million U.S. manufacturing jobs have been lost largely because of high energy costs.”
Of course, the defenders of this ban and the ban on drilling in ANWR continue with the common refrain “it would take five years to bring that oil (or natural gas) to market”, conveniently neglecting to mention that President Bush first asked Congress to permit drilling in ANWR five years ago. And in five years, these same demagogues will make the same excuse.
So, why mess with the energy markets? Well, there’s always ecoparanoia I guess. But if you think those fantasies are worth interfering with markets at least stop blaming the oil companies and put the blame where it belongs when you pay the bill.