This morning on NPR, President Bush tried to blame congress for the nation’s high gas, food, and electricity prices. Apparently, Congress has been thwarting the President’s attempts to fix the economy:
“I’ve repeatedly submitted proposals to help address these problems,” the president said. “Yet time after time, Congress chose to block them.”
The President proposed dealing with high gas prices by “environmentally safe” drilling the the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, better known as ANWR.
“It’s been more than 30 years since America built its last new refinery, yet in this area, too, Congress has repeatedly blocked efforts to expand capacity and build more refineries,” Bush said.
Drilling in ANWR makes perfect sense, since it would supply 876,000 barrels of oil per day to a country that consumes 20,687,000 barrels of oil per day. To put that in perspective, 876,000 barrels is about 1 hour worth of oil, or over the course of a year amounts to about 15 days of US oil consumption.
Of course, we wouldn’t reach 876,000 barrels of oil per day until production peaked in 2025, assuming the oil started flowing by 2013. According to an analysis by the Energy Information Administration back in 2004 (that’s where these numbers come from), peak oil production in ANWR “might reduce world oil prices by as much as 30 to 50 cents per barrel, relative to a projected 2025 world oil price of $27 per barrel.”
Even if the analysis was spot-on about the price of oil (only $100 dollars off), would 30 to 50 cents make a difference? The analysis went on to say that OPEC (being OPEC) would probably “countermand” any change in price by reducing an equivalent amount of oil exports.
So how is it going to help the average American to drill in ANWR? It probably wouldn’t. With oil at $120 a barrel and rising steadily, the only thing that’s clear is how lucrative the proposal would be for oil companies.
Bush also mentioned lifting federal gas and diesel taxes (18.4 cents and 24.4 cents per gallon, respectively) over the summer, another move that would make a huge difference in long term energy security. I think Barack Obama is right about this one: it’s a “gimmick that won’t provide any significant relief to motorists.”
At a meeting with voters in North Carolina on Monday, Mr. Obama said lifting the gas tax for three months would save the average consumer no more than $30, a figure confirmed by Congressional analysts. Mr. Obama has previously dismissed Mr. McCain’s proposal as a “scheme.”
“Half a tank of gas,” Mr. Obama told his audience. “That’s his big solution.”
How about raising petroleum taxes and investing in renewable energy infrastructure? How about setting up a tax on carbon emissions like British Columbia just did? Anything but continuing to invest so heavily in a resource that’s on its way out.
It’s time to start looking for real solutions, and gracefully acquiescing that it’s the end of an era.
To hear Bush’s speech, listen to the NPR show from this morning. Have a comment on this topic? Share it below.