Placing blame for gas prices

Democrats have prevented drilling while chasing phantoms

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In the six years between President Bush's inauguration in 2001 and the Democrats' assumption of control of Congress in 2007, the price of gasoline rose an average of 14 cents a year. Since the Democrats took over Congress, the price of gas has doubled, the inflation monster has reawakened and the recession wolf is sniffing at our door.

Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio (jkelly@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1476).

I know. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc (after, therefore because of) was the first logical fallacy they taught back when logic was taught in school. It may merely be coincidence that things went to hell in a hand basket since the Democrats took over.

Or maybe not. Here's another coincidence. On July 15, President Bush announced he was lifting the executive branch moratorium on offshore drilling. In the 24 hours that followed, crude oil futures plunged $9.26 (6.3 percent), the biggest oil price decline in 17 years.

"Traders took a look at a feisty and aggressive George Bush and started selling the market well before a new drop of oil has been lifted," said financial analyst Lawrence Kudlow. "If Congress moves to seal the deal, oil prices will probably keep on falling. That's the way traders work. They discount the future. Psychology and expectations can turn on a dime."

Oil prices fell again the next day when the Bureau of Land Management overrode the objections of environmentalists and opened 4.9 million acres of land in Alaska to oil exploration.

Oil prices are high chiefly because Democrats in Congress won't let us develop oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (10.4 billion barrels, equivalent to 37 percent of our proved reserves), on the Outer Continental Shelf (86 billion barrels, nearly four times our proved reserves), or the oil shale in the Green River Formation in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming (800 billion barrels, more than the proved reserves of the rest of the world).

Democrats also oppose the most promising intermediate-term alternatives to oil: coal-to-liquid plants that convert coal to gasoline and diesel fuel (one using mostly U.S. technology will open in China this fall) and nuclear power plants.

Democrats say developing the oil resources we have in this country is not a solution because it would take five to 10 years for the additional oil to come on line. This isn't true.

"A new report from Wall Street research house Sanford C. Bernstein says that California actually could start producing new oil within one year if [the congressional ban on offshore drilling] were lifted," Mr. Kudlow said. "The California oil is under shallow water and already has been explored. Drilling platforms have been in place since before the moratorium. They're talking about 10 billion barrels worth off the coast of California."

But even if it were true, Democrats are being hypocritical. The primary reason they oppose developing our oil and natural gas resources and pursuing clean coal technologies (we're the Saudi Arabia of coal) is their concern for global warming.

"Coal makes us sick, oil makes us sick, it's global warming, it's ruining our country, it's ruining our world, we've got to stop using fossil fuel," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said last month.

Global warming exists only in computer models. In the real world, global temperatures peaked in 1998, have been declining for the last four years and are projected to remain flat or decline further for the next decade.

Even in the computer models, global warming doesn't pose a serious problem for at least half a century. But the "cap and trade" emission-control systems Democrats are proposing to combat it would have immediate negative effects on the economy. A Heritage Foundation study estimated that Senate Bill 2191 would lower the gross domestic product by at least $155 billion a year. All this to produce what the computer models say would be only a negligible reduction in carbon emissions -- none at all if China and India don't go along, as they've said they won't.

So Democrats demand we cripple our economy now to deal with a threat that may not exist and which computer models indicate wouldn't manifest itself for 50 years or more, but they refuse to take action on the real economic crisis we face today -- a crisis they are largely responsible for creating -- because it could take five to 10 years to turn things around.

This may make sense in Hyde Park or Berkeley, but not in those portions of America where people use their heads for something other than to hold up their hair.



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