Democrats Refuse to Allow Domestic Oil Production

Gene Dale wrote:

OK, want to know why I detest Chuck Schumer?:

NY Times, 1999, on releasing strategic reserves…

Mr. Schumer said the United States should begin selling a few hundred thousand gallons a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which now contains 571 million gallons. ”A relatively modest amount of oil released from our oil reserves will keep prices flat and actually reduce them,” he said.

April 30, 2008

Senator Schumer, responding to Bush’s ANWR proposal: ““And what does the President do? He takes out the old saw of ANWR. ANWR wouldn’t produce a drop of oil in 10 years, and its estimated that if they drilled in ANWR in twenty years it would reduce the price one penny.

You should know ANWR will produce 1 million barrels a day.
May 14, 2008

“If Saudi Arabia were to increase its production by 1 million barrels per day that translates to a reduction of 20 percent to 25 percent in the world price of crude oil, and crude oil prices could fall by more than $25 dollar per barrel from its current level of $126 per barrel,” Schumer insisted during a speech on the Senate floor.

“In turn, that would lower the price of gasoline between 13 percent and 17 percent, or by more than 62 cents off the expected summer regular-grade price – offering much needed relief to struggling families,” he added.

And that is a pretty darned good reason to detest Sen. Chuck Schumer. A classic example of the twisted logic of a pandering demagogue in action.

First of all, it is important to point out that if President Bill Clinton hadn’t vetoed the Republican measure to drill in ANWR in 1995 – by Schumer’s own 10 year timeframe – we would have oil from those fields stabilizing our energy for a good three years now.

Second, ANWR has a lot more oil than Democrats or their environmentalist “experts” admit, and ANWR is only the tip of the U.S. oil supply iceberg: we have massive sources of oil all over the continent that Democrats won’t allow us to touch, such as the continental shelf.

It is simply a fact that Democrats have been obstructing efforts to increase U.S. domestic oil production for years and years. While Democrats and their many media allies have attempted to phrase this issue in terms of everything BUT oil independence, it remains a fact that the steadfast policy of Democrats has been to oppose every effort to increase our supply of oil.

Last year President Bush again attempted to open up more areas to drilling, but Democrats wouldn’t have any of it. “Whatever pressing energy issue comes before the American people, the Bush administration always responds with the same oil answer: more oil,” said Representative Nick J. Rahall II, Democrat of West Virginia and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.”

MAYBE THAT’S BECAUSE WE NEED MORE OIL!!!

Shell’s John Hofmeister tried to explain this to Democrats, but Democrats view “hearings” as opportunities to pander, not as opportunities to learn:

While all oil-importing nations buy oil at global prices, some, notably India and China, subsidize the cost of oil products to their nation’s consumers, feeding the demand for more oil despite record prices. They do this to speed economic growth and to ensure a competitive advantage relative to other nations.

Meanwhile, in the United States, access to our own oil and gas resources has been limited for the last 30 years, prohibiting companies such as Shell from exploring and developing resources for the benefit of the American people.

Senator Sessions, I agree, it is not a free market.

According to the Department of the Interior, 62 percent of all on-shore federal lands are off limits to oil and gas developments, with restrictions applying to 92 percent of all federal lands. We have an outer continental shelf moratorium on the Atlantic Ocean, an outer continental shelf moratorium on the Pacific Ocean, an outer continental shelf moratorium on the eastern Gulf of Mexico, congressional bans on on-shore oil and gas activities in specific areas of the Rockies and Alaska, and even a congressional ban on doing an analysis of the resource potential for oil and gas in the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf of Mexico.

The Argonne National Laboratory did a report in 2004 that identified 40 specific federal policy areas that halt, limit, delay or restrict natural gas projects. I urge you to review it. It is a long list. If I may, I offer it today if you would like to include it in the record.

When many of these policies were implemented, oil was selling in the single digits, not the triple digits we see now. The cumulative effect of these policies has been to discourage U.S. investment and send U.S. companies outside the United States to produce new supplies.

As a result, U.S. production has declined so much that nearly 60 percent of daily consumption comes from foreign sources.

The problem of access can be solved in this country by the same government that has prohibited it. Congress could have chosen to lift some or all of the current restrictions on exportation and production of oil and gas. Congress could provide national policy to reverse the persistent decline of domestically secure natural resource development.

Senator Orrin Hatch also questioned Hofmeister about proven reserves discovered in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming totaling at least 800 billion and as many as 2 trillion barrels of oil, which could be recovered at a cost that would be a powerful offset against the rising cost of oil. The last part of this discussion is insightful:

HOFMEISTER: I don’t know what the exact cost would be, but, you know, if there is more supply, I think inflation in the oil industry would be cracked. And we are facing severe inflation because of the limited amount of supply against the demand.

HATCH: I guess what I’m saying, though, is that if we started to develop the oil shale in those three states we could do it within this framework of over $100 a barrel and make a profit.

HOFMEISTER: I believe we could.

HATCH: And we could help our country alleviate its oil pressures.

HOFMEISTER: Yes.

HATCH: But they’re stopping us from doing that right here, as we sit here. We just had a hearing last week where Democrats had stopped the ability to do that, in at least Colorado.

HOFMEISTER: Well, as I said in my opening statement, I think the public policy constraints on the supply side in this country are a disservice to the American consumer.

Add to that the recent discovery in the Bakken Play, a North Dakota field that stretches into Montana and Saskatchewan, Canada, which is expected to yield 100 – and possibly even 200 – billion barrels of oil, and we truly have an abundance of domestic oil that could easily meet American energy needs for decades to come. If we were only allowed to exploit those resources.

Instead, the United States is forced to rely on countries and regimes that are either hostile to our interests or politically unstable. This dependence is a clear threat to our national security, and – as long as this situation remains – “oil security will continue to be one of the primary drivers of US foreign and military policy.”

In other words, if Democrats really want America out of the turmoil of the Middle East, THEY SHOULD LET US TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OUR OIL RESERVES.

But these people have long since proven that they would rather pander than produce, would rather demagogue than dialog.

Take a leading Democrat, Rep. Maxine Waters.  Her contribution to the Democrat-engineered “show trial” of oil executives was to say, “And, guess what this liberal will be all about? This liberal will be about socializing… uh, will be about, basically taking over and the government running all of your companies.”  That’s right.  That ought to work.  The government that brought us the $1500 toilet seat will undoubtedly do a bang-up job in lowering gas prices.  And the fact that this prominent Democrat is openly proclaiming socialism while calling for a heavy-handed Marxist approach to economics shouldn’t trouble anyone.

The United States has not had a new oil refinery since 1976, due to a pattern of unyielding Democratic opposition, nonstop environmentalist litigation, and one impossibly burdensome environmental regulation after another. Democrats are clearly standing in the way of any kind of increase in refining capacity. In the last effort to increase our refining capacity, 99% of Republicans supported the bill, and 92% of Democrats opposed it.

“Everyone is quick to say “look at these refiners, they’re driving up the price,'” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Alaron Trading in Chicago. “But if I wanted to build a refinery tomorrow, I couldn’t do it.”

Today on Fox News, one industry expert predicted that if we have a single refinery disaster during this hurricane season, we will see $7.00 a gallon gasoline this summer. Why? Because our limited refining capacity is already stretched to maximum, and any delay will send already stressed prices through the roof.

Why? What possible explanation can Democrats offer to account for their incredibly absurd energy positions?

Here’s a couple Democrat’s answers to the question “Why Are Democrats Against Building More Refineries?” that quite accurately reflect the Democrat position:

* “As a Democrat I want alternative fuel not more oil. More refineries = more oil. Let us turn the page and go forward.”

* “We don’t need more refineries, we need alternate and better fuel sources. More refineries is a temporary “fix” to a very big problem. Also, was there anything hidden in the bill?

Democrats dismiss the FACT that increasing the domestic oil supply will have a profound positive impact on the price of U.S. gasoline.  Amazingly, by and large Democrats readily acknowledge that an increase in OPEC production will decrease prices; yet in practically the same breath they claim that a similar increase in American production would have no effect whatsoever.

Democrats demand that we turn away from what has provided well over ninety percent of our energy for a century and instead rely on costly, inefficient, impractical, and unproven alternatives. As one example, “Take out the 51-cents-a-gallon federal subsidy, and the true cost of U.S.-produced ethanol is equivalent to paying $6 a gallon for the same energy as gasoline, calculates Michael B. McElroy, Harvard professor of environmental studies.”

Democrats – who frankly don’t seem to understand much of anything – point to the complexity of the “very big problem” of meeting our energy needs.

And of course, Democrats love to punt to some version of a conspiracy theory rather than allowing any effort that would solve our energy crisis. One Democrat during yesterday’s hearings told the oil executives that, although she had no proof of collusion, believed that oil companies were conspiring to keep prices high, and challenged them to prove her wrong. I’ve actually wanted to pose a similar “when-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife”-style question to Democrats by demanding that they prove to me that they are not insane, but I thought it would be unfair to ask until now.

Democrats keep refusing to allow any increase in oil production or refining capability, citing the argument that they want to reduce demand by means alternative energy and by changing American’s behavior. But the problem is, the overwhelming majority of Americans don’t want to change. Not long ago, I set my cruise control to the speed limit on the highway while on a sixty-mile drive, and counted the number of cars, trucks (excluding big rigs), and SUVs that went by me versus the number of cars I passed. The result: 421vehicles passed me, and I passed only 5. And cars and trucks routinely go flying by me on the road.

And while people are currently not buying a lot of gas-guzzling pickups and SUVs, previous gas-spike behavior assures me that once prices come back down, people will quickly go back to their previous ways and go back to buying the guzzlers.

The Democratic Party’s approach is to try to force automakers to produce cars that by-and-large customers don’t want; try to force vehicles to conform to shockingly-stringent environmental standards that will add thousands of dollars to the sticker price of each car; and try to force oil companies to invest in non-oil energy technologies (which is rather like trying to force Microsoft to invest in Apple). Such measures are largely ignored by consumers. What would really be interesting is if Democrats attempted to pass legislation requiring that speed-restricting governors to be placed on every new car sold. THAT would be a nice barometer to gauge genuine public opinion of their approach to energy.

The sad truth of the matter is that, unless draconian limitations on individual freedom are imposed, most of the Democrats’ energy policy will do nothing to nothing to reduce the costs of energy for the overwhelming majority of Americans. In fact, by refusing to increase the supply of oil in a global environment that is increasingly demanding a resource in increasingly restricted supply, they are only serving to drive up the cost of that energy.

That is outrageous enough. But to then turn around and attack President Bush, the Republican Party, and oil companies for a problem that Democrats themselves have been creating for over thirty years is nothing short of despicable.

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