What to do about high gas prices?

Every candidate for president and the U.S. Senate and Congress should be asked the following question this year: “Do you want the price of gasoline to come down?

  • Tuesday, June 24, 2008 2:47pm
  • Opinion

Every candidate for president and the U.S. Senate and Congress should be asked the following question this year: “Do you want the price of gasoline to come down?

The question is relevant because many politicians don’t. They believe that higher gas prices means more people shedding their cars and riding mass transit, which means less driving and less pollution. They also hope that higher prices will make it more enticing for entrepreneurs to develop cars that run on alternative sources of energy.

But most Americans are incensed that a gallon of gasoline in this area now sells for more than $4.37 – up by more than a third in just one year – and they are worried about where the country is headed.

Here is where we are headed. If nothing changes, gasoline will probably cost $5 a gallon this time next year and $6 a gallon within two years.

What are Barack Obama and John McCain willing to do to change that?

So far the Democrats are content to demonize oil companies. They accused ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco for somehow setting prices with other big oil companies and getting away with it.

If only it were that easy.

Exxon is routinely referred to as the world’s biggest company. That’s not quite right. ExxonMobil is actually the largest PRIVATE business. Most of the world’s leading oil companies are owned by foreign governments.

According to PetroStrategies, Inc., the biggest firm is the National Iranian Oil Company.

Within that list is the OPEC cartel that sets and skews the market price for oil.

ExxonMobil comes in at No. 17.

Most of the drilling for oil today is being done in the above-named countries, which is where most of our money is flowing. Noel Sheppard in National Review points out that since 1980 Canada has increased its output of crude oil by 85 percent. Mexico also has increased its output. But during that same time, America’s production has DECLINED by 22 percent.

It would appear that America’s energy policy under both Democratic and Republican administrations for the last 20 years is to import more oil and send more money to countries whose governments don’t like us.

That’s what the price of gasoline really reflects: the price tag for America’s government not allowing drilling off the coast, even if it’s out of sight. Or up in Alaska, including the massive, mostly barren Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Or on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, where there could be three times the amount of oil in shale than the Saudis are sitting on now.

The Alaska Pipeline 40 years ago proved that unearthing oil and protecting the environment could be done literally side by side. McCain has taken a step, albeit a small one, in calling for more drilling off the coasts. The Democrats say no, and demand a tax on Exxon’s profits.

OK, so the Democrats hate oil companies, we get that. Can they please get serious about how to reduce the price of gasoline? Or do they really want the price to come down?

John Carlson, political commentator, can be reached at jcarlson@fisherradio.com or johncarlson@komoradio.com

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