In another push to put the blame of high oil and gas prices on the Congressional Democrats President Bush yesterday urged congress to move quickly on lifting the ban on domestic offshore oil drilling. The Senate is currently gridlocked on a variety of energy bills with the Republicans claiming that they want an “open debate” and accuse the Democrat majority in the Senate of limiting amendments to avoid a vote on offshore drilling (Moscrip, Lara, “Bush pushes Congress on oil drilling“, CNN Money, July 30, 2008 ).

The President remarked: “American drivers are counting on Congress to lift the ban and so are American workers…I’ve lifted the ban, I’ve done my part, all Democrats have to do is allow a vote, they should not leave Washington without doing so.” (Moscrip, Lara, “Bush pushes Congress on oil drilling“, CNN Money, July 30, 2008 )

Sorry Mr. President…you haven’t done your part. Your part was to devise an energy policy for the 21st century that would have us weaning ourselves off of oil and gas and moving to more renewable energy technologies. Your administration has failed miserably at that part and now, when the chickens come home to roost, you want to blame Congressional Democrats for the whole situation. Remember, the Democrats have only controlled Congress for just under 2 years. You’ve been at the helm of the ship for almost 8 years. Our reliance on oil and foreign energy sources should have become painfully obvious after September 11, 2001 and you had the opportunity to lead us away from that reliance to a more independent energy future. But you chose not to. If anyone is at fault it is your administration and the Republican Congressional majority (as well as previous administrations and their failure to act as well).

Now the Congressional Democrat response is pretty lame as well. Senator Harry Reid suggested that the President “focus on releasing oil from the strategic oil reserve, speeding up production in areas already open for drilling and cracking down on oil traders.” (Moscrip, Lara, “Bush pushes Congress on oil drilling“, CNN Money, July 30, 2008 ) To me this sounds so weak as a response. Releasing oil from the strategic oil reserve will do nothing to really impact the cost of a barrel of oil and cracking down on oil traders falls into the old argument that it’s the “evil” oil speculators who are responsible for the current cost of oil. No Senator Reid…it’s something called supply and demand market forces. Stop playing populist politics at the level of the President and rise above the fray. Be honest.

As for speeding up production in areas already open for oil drilling…that I agree with. Oil companies are sitting on a lot of leases and doing nothing with them because they figure that the President and this administration will do everything in their power to get them more land (whether it’s offshore or not)…and then they can sit on that as well. The oil companies are raking in the profits at this point…why would they want to see the price of oil go down? Consider that Exxon-Mobil just announced that their second quarter profit rose 14% to 11.68 billion dollars (Werdigier, Julia, “Rising Oil Prices Lift Exxon to Record Profit“, The New York Times, August 1, 2008 ) Even if Congress repealed the ban on offshore oil drilling it would have zero impact on prices at the pump today. It takes years to develop a new oil field to the point that the oil reaches the market and on top of that, remember that this is a global market. The oil found in any new offshore field could just as easily be sold to India or China or to some other country who’s willing to pay top dollar for that oil. Americans need to tighten our belts, conserve, and develop and deploy new automotive technologies like better hybrid cards, electric cars, wind power and solar power to help reduce our consumption of oil and gas. That’s the long term solution to this energy crunch. But don’t ask the President or Congress to act…they’re much more interested in playing politics than doing something substantive to address this crisis.

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