• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Morning Bell: Liberals Want Americans to Suffer at the Pump

    When the Democrats were still in the minority, Americans were paying $2.91 a gallon on average for gasoline. At the time, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promised “a commonsense plan to help bring down skyrocketing gas prices by cracking down on price gouging, rolling back the billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies, tax breaks and royalty relief given to big oil and gas companies, and increasing production of alternative fuels.” This is standard boilerplate for liberal politicians when Americans complain about gas prices: blame Big Oil greed for high gas prices and promise that big government investment in alternative fuels will save the day.

    Now that Democrats have been in power for 18 months, the average national cost for a gallon of gasoline is over $4 and the only change in Pelosi’s policy has been to add OPEC to her list of people to blame. Nobody seriously believes that any of these policies are capable of reducing gas prices in the short term. OPEC countries are not about to start pumping more oil because Pelosi says so, and even the New York Times openly mocked the House investigations on oil market manipulation.

    The other items on the liberal gas-price-lowering agenda–increasing oil company taxes and mandating biofuel use–only increase the price of gas. Raising taxes on the cost of capital for oil production decreases supply and raises prices. In the short term, tax-paying corporations tend to recoup increased tax payments in the form of higher retail prices. The billions of dollars necessary to build the infrastructure to meet the more than doubling of the biofuels mandate also can only raise the price at the pump today. Now liberals in the Senate want to institute a Hugo Chavez-like windfall profits tax, a policy that only raised energy prices in the 1970s under Jimmy Carter.

    For close observers of the American left, the fact that liberal politicians pay lip service to lowering gas prices while actually instituting policies that will raise the price of gasoline comes as no surprise. The New York Times has editorialized in favor “higher, not lower, prices” on gasoline as “an important way to spur the needed technological innovation and curb demand.” Influential environmental activist Dave Roberts has been even more honest and explicit:

    But Dems keep encouraging the delusion that high fossil energy prices–particularly gas prices–are some sort of weird aberration resulting from the greed of oil executives or Saudi intransigence. They keep encouraging the delusion that with a few policy gimmicks we can bring those prices back down. … As long as Americans think that energy prices might go back down at any moment–that the cheap-energy good times of the ’90s are but a “windfall profits tax” away–they won’t support a policy they’re told will increase those prices. They need to be told the truth.

    Roberts is right. Americans need to be told the truth. Liberals in Congress have been fighting to raise the price of gas for years. According to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the daily oil production from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would reduce the price of gasoline by 50 cents. Liberals in the White House and Congress have been blocking the development of this oil for more than a decade now. Billions of barrels of oil in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming have also been restricted, not to mention the billions more denied from offshore drilling.

    Liberals cannot be allowed to continue to get away with this. When prices rise at the pump, American consumers suffer. And the pain is not felt uniformly. The New York Times reports today that rural Americans suffer the most:

    Here in the Mississippi Delta, some farm workers are borrowing money from their bosses so they can fill their tanks and get to work. … With the exception of rural Maine, the Northeast appears least affected by gasoline prices because people there make more money and drive shorter distances, or they take a bus or train to work. But across Mississippi and the rural South, little public transit is available and people have no choice but to drive to work.

    This is the energy policy Pelosi and Schumer are forcing on the American people: punishing poor and rural Americans with high gas prices so wealthy San Franciscans and New Yorkers can take Alaskan cruises to see their precious polar bears.

    Quick Hits:

    • Californians are quickly discovering that medical marijuana laws “unintentionally” provided legal cover for large-scale recreational marijuana growers.
    • With local demand for tougher immigration enforcement growing, 95 police departments are waiting to join 47 others in a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement program that lets officers investigate and detain people they suspect to be illegal immigrants.
    • New Orleans is rebuilding its school system under new rules, including a vast network of charter schools where there are no standard hours, teacher seniority, union contracts, or common textbooks.
    • Democrats in Congress are set to kill the groundbreaking federal voucher program that enables nearly 2,000 D.C. children to attend private schools.
    • After losing more than $18 million since 1993, the Senate finally voted to privatize its network of restaurants.
    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    17 Responses to Morning Bell: Liberals Want Americans to Suffer at the Pump

    1. Oliver, Gaspatch CO says:

      "Liberals in the White House and Congress have been blocking the development of this oil for over a decade now. Billions of barrels of oil in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming have also been restricted."

      Please provide a cite for this, otherwise–as someone who lives here in the lands you want to trash–I have to conclude 1) you don't know what you are talking about and 2) you are spouting unadulterated BS.

    2. Conn Carroll Conn Carroll says:

      To Diggy: I pulled that $2.91 number from Pelosi's own press release at the time. So if you have a problem with the "randomness" of it, take it up with the Speaker's office.

      To Oliver: Here are just some cites about the billions of bails of oil in the mountain states:
      http://money.cnn.com/2008/06/06/news/economy/birghttp://ostseis.anl.gov/guide/oilshale/index.cfm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_River_Formatio

    3. se7en, Provo, UT says:

      The Media/Liberals will probably blame it on the Bush Administration, the greed of the oil companies, and/or the Iraq war… What Liberals don't realize is, that time and time again, the very people they say they are looking out for, are the ones who suffer from their inane polices and ideology.

    4. Oliver, Gaspatch CO says:

      uhh, wrong. The statement says that Dems have been blocking this for decades.

      Fact – Royal Dutch Shell – the company so anxious about acquiring more federal oil shale deposits – already possess 36,000 aces of oil shale lands in Colorado — containing tens of billions of oil equivalent – that it owns outright. Yet, it hasn’t been able to commercially produce oil on any of it.

      Fact – according to information assemble by the United State Geological Survey, hundreds of billions of barrels of oil equivalent locked in oil shale deposits are owned or controlled by private companies like ExxonMobil, the Oil Exploration Company, Red Leaf Resources, and Anadarko. Yet, none of these companies has ever developed a successful commercial oil shale project.

      Fact – there are a host of technological and economic, not governmental, impediments to the commercial feasibility of oil shale development. Shell is working on some promising new technologies, but says it will not know if its innovations are commercially viable for many, many years.

      Fact – oil shale development would require enormous inputs of coal-fired electric power, and large supplies of water in an arid, almost desert-like climate. The latter factor is why water users throughout Colorado have voice concerns about being very careful in developing oil sale as an energy source.

      Maybe some day oil shale can be exploited in a commercially viable, and environmentally safe way. That day is a long way off. In the meantime, the prospective oil shale industry has plenty of oil shale deposits at its disposal if it wants to get to get an oil shale industry up and running. We don’t need to imprudently give away more federal lands for oil shale speculators to sit on.

    5. Chris, Texas says:

      Oliver,

      Correct regarding the oil shale. However, the ANWR comment is correct. Bush has been pushing this since he got into office.

      The fact is we have been underpaying and overconsuming oil for quite some time. The price needs to rise for the following reasons:

      1. It is a commodity and it is not price inelastic. Consumers will figure out how to use less oil when they are not able to afford.

      2. So that companies can make an economic case to develop the tight shale plays in states like Colorado.

      3. It will force the development of new alternative fuels. And I don't mean corn based ethanol, which without government subsidy would be abandoned without hesitation.

      We need to be scared of Obama and his Oil Windfall Tax. That would disincentivise the oil companies developing new technology and have a terrible effect on the economy.

    6. Fox - Maryland says:

      The law of unintended consequences>

      Keep it up. Keep on raising them gas prices, because sooner or later Americans will get tired of these exceptionally high prices and they will say the hell with the enviroment and they will demand we drill not only in ANWR but in your back yard if necessary.

      Maybe it's a plan by the gov't to get us mad enough to finally demand we drill here at home, start building refineries and nuclear powered plants.

    7. Conn Carroll Conn Carroll says:

      Oliver-

      If oil shale is so economically unviable, then why are you opposed to lifting the government ban on developing them? If it is so expensive for hell, Exxon, etc. to develop these resources, then why are you afraid of letting the Interior Department pass regulations allowing these companies to act on their leases?

      At $40 a barrel oil shale was not economically viable. At $140 a barrel it is very profitable … as long as environmental activists don't get in the way.

    8. Max, Denver CO says:

      You don't suppose it has anything to do with the demand created by the growth of the Chinese and Indian economies? And what role did the Demoncrats play there?

    9. Chris, Texas says:

      If only that were true. Why are people so scared of nuclear power plants and urban drilling? Nuclear power plants are more safe now than they ever have been and there are plenty of places left in the country, (i.e. Texas) to put them. And with natural gas at $12/Mcf, I would like to have lower residential heating and cooling bills. And with respect to drilling, the EPA and the Sierra bunch have ensured that oil and gas companies have streamlined their drilling processes to limit their environmental impact. Anybody else think that we can last on Saudi Oil for the rest of our adult life. Surely, the rest of you are going to wake up to the fact, the Saudis don't have the reserves they claim to have. At most of the major oil and gas companies they are openly discussing the fact that the Saudis will hit peak production in the next 10 – 15 years, when in fact global demand will increase by almost 20% due to China and India. Yes, the transition for the country will be difficult and people will have to make concessions. But that is life when you are dealing with a "limited natural resource." We can't just stick our heads in the sand and hope that the problem goes away.

    10. Oliver, Gaspatch CO says:

      The issue is why give away vast tracts of federal lands for an environmentally-harmful, unproven technology? Let them prove their technology on the tens of thousands of oil shale lands they already own or control.

    11. Conn Carroll Conn Carroll says:

      Oliver-

      No one is giving anything away. The oil companies pay cold hard cash for the leases for the rights to the shale. The only question remaining is whether liberals in Congress will allow the Interior Department to set the ground rules for the companies to begin. Oil shale has been commercially viable in Canada for years now, and it can be in CO, UT, and WY if only the environmentalists would get out of the way.

    12. Oliver, Gaspatch CO says:

      No. Those are TAR SANDS in Canada. Entirely different resource, entirely different technology.

    13. Oliver, Gaspatch CO says:

      from CO Springs Business Journal:

      Despite the delay, Shell is optimistic about the feasibility — and profitability — of oil shale. But the company is being cautious, refusing to estimate how many barrels of oil could eventually be produced from area.

      "We don't want to say, because it's still a ways out from commercialization," Boyd said. "But our tests are showing some very favorable results."

      Shell expects that the oil shale project will reach commercial stage in about 10 years, Boyd said. While that might seem like the far-distant future for motorists paying nearly $3 for gallon for gas, Boyd said the project is moving swiftly.

      If Shell can solve the oil shale puzzle — determining how to pull oil from the rocks by means that are efficient and inexpensive – - the formation could become the largest unconventional oil reserve in the world.

    14. Oliver, Gaspatch CO says:

      I find it ironic that Heritage would put up an article from someone who doesn't even realize TAR SANDS and OIL SHALE are not the same thing.

    15. William, Michigan says:

      Oliver,

      I find ironic your incorrect use of the word ironic.

      Way to go!

    16. Dan, Platteville CO says:

      http://WWW.AMERICANSOLUTIONS.COM

      "As gas prices continue to increase, Congress continues to blame others while ignoring practical steps to stop the pain Americans are feeling at the pump. To lower gasoline prices and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we need real solutions to our energy challenges."

      Login now and sign the petition. DRILL HERE. DRILL NOW. PAY LESS. SIGN THE PETITION!

    17. James says:

      We have so much of our own energy resources that it's criminal to outsource good paying energy jobs. It's time to get rid of liberal politicians that force us to send our wealth out of the country. They will not be happy until we're a third world nation. They have said as much in their apologetic speeches around the world. They are not beleivers in American exceptionalism.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×