Thursday, June 5, 2008

Schumerian Hypocrisy & A McCain Problem

Senator Chuck Shumer finally figures out that the price of gas is determined by the law of supply and demand. And yet it was only a few weeks ago he was trying to repeal that law.

Several weeks ago, the President addressed what needs to happen to bring down oil prices. We need to exploit our own vast resources, as discussed in a prior post here. That includes drilling in ANWR.

Nancy Pelosi responded by stating that all Republicans want to do is "veto (a Democratic sponsored plan to sue OPEC) and drill." Well, . . . yeah. Suing OPEC has no hope of winning and, indeed, has nothing but potentially catastrophic downsides. Demand has far outpaced existing world supplies such that small blips in the market cause huge market swings.

And seemingly within minutes of the President's speech, Chuckie Shumer shows up on the news claiming that drilling in ANWR would not appreciably effect gas prices. Most estimates of ANWR production put it as becoming available in one to three years from start of drilling and pumping about 1,000,000 barrels of oil per day.

So what is Shumer's latest effort? I missed it two weeks ago, but fortunately George Will didn't:

Rising in the Senate on May 13, Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat, explained: "I rise to discuss rising energy prices." The president was heading to Saudi Arabia to seek an increase in its oil production, and Schumer's gorge was rising.

Saudi Arabia, he said, "holds the key to reducing gasoline prices at home in the short term." Therefore arms sales to that kingdom should be blocked unless it "increases its oil production by one million barrels per day," which would cause the price of gasoline to fall "50 cents a gallon almost immediately."

Amazing. This man has yet to vote to allow one drop of oil to be pumped in America, he ignores the law of supply and demand, and he blames oil prices on a combination of greedy oil companies (who do not set the price) and a Bush administration that seeks to actually increase supply. And then he turns around and claims that forcing Saudi Arabia to increase their supply by the amount we would get from drilling in ANWR will drop oil prices significantly. This truly is hypocrisy of Schumerian proportions.

Unfortunately, the story does not end there. John McCain fancies himself Teddy Roosevelt reborn and is equally bound and determined to stand in the way of drilling, at least in ANWR. He does so out of the desire to protect an untouched wilderness, presumably rather than for the more socialist and punitive goals of the radical environmentalists who comprise a key special interest group of the Democratic party. But Teddy Roosevelt did not live in an age where energy is the lifeblood of the economy and where his America was potentially facing major economic hardship because rising world demand is effecting the costs of supplies the U.S. could access. Somebody needs to straighten Mr. McCain out on this one. Pristine wilderness is wonderful. Americans who are having trouble making ends meet so a caribou does not have its view of the sea obstructed by a few oil rigs is a far higher priority.

At any rate, to contine with George Will's article today:

". . . One million barrels is what might today be flowing from ANWR if in 1995 President Bill Clinton hadn't vetoed legislation to permit drilling there. One million barrels produce 27 million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel. Seventy-two of today's senators - including Schumer, of course, and 38 other Democrats, including Barack Obama, and 33 Republicans, including John McCain - have voted to keep ANWR's estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil off the market.

So Schumer, according to Schumer, is complicit in taking $10 away from every American who buys 20 gallons of gasoline.

"Democracy," said H.L. Mencken, "is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard." The common people of New York want Schumer to be their senator, so they should pipe down about gasoline prices, which are a predictable consequence of their political choice.

Also disqualified from complaining are all voters who sent to Washington senators and representatives who've voted to keep ANWR's oil in the ground, and who voted to put 85 percent of America's offshore territory off-limits to drilling. The US Minerals Management Service says that restricted area contains perhaps 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas - 10 times the oil and 20 times the natural gas Americans use in a year.

Drilling is under way 60 miles off Florida. The drilling is being done by China, in cooperation with Cuba, which is drilling closer to South Florida than US companies are.

ANWR is larger than the combined areas of five states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware) and drilling along its coastal plane would be confined to a space one-sixth the size of Washington's Dulles Airport.

Offshore? Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed or damaged hundreds of drilling rigs without causing a large spill. There hasn't been a significant spill from an offshore US well since 1969. Of the more than 7 billion barrels of oil pumped offshore in the last 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.

. . . In September 2006, two US companies announced that their "Jack No. 2" well, in the Gulf 270 miles southwest of New Orleans, had tapped a field with perhaps 15 billion barrels of oil, which would increase America's proven reserves by 50 percent. Just probing four miles below the Gulf's floor costs $100 million. Congress' response to such expenditures is to propose increasing the oil companies' tax burdens.

America says to foreign producers: We prefer not to pump our oil, so please pump more of yours, thereby lowering its value, for our benefit. Let it not be said that America has no energy policy."

Read the entire article. I also ran across a great post at Astute Blogger on our self inflicted energy woes. I highly recommend it.

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