Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bringing On The HEAT

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers has been working towards expanding oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in what she claims is an effort to increase supplies and lower gas prices. She voted for H.R. 1231, the Reversing President Obama's Offshore Moratorium Act, which places a new requirement that at least 50% of available unleased be leased.

(5)(A) In each oil and gas leasing program under this section, the Secretary shall make available for leasing and conduct lease sales including--

(i) at least 50 percent of the available unleased acreage within each outer Continental Shelf planning area considered to have the largest undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources (on a total btu basis) based upon the most recent national geologic assessment of the outer Continental Shelf, with an emphasis on offering the most geologically prospective parts of the planning area; and

(ii) any State subdivision of an outer Continental Shelf planning area that the Governor of the State that represents that subdivision requests be made available for leasing.

Back in March a number of Republican representatives formed the House Energy Action Team (HEAT). They've been working hard to get more drilling done. Tired of high gas prices? Drill!!! Among their many social networking efforts, they put together a video that Cathy McMorris Rodgers was nice enough to tout.

In the meantime, the Consumer Futures Trading Commission, a monitoring and enforcement agency that the House Republicans just voted to reduce their budget by 15%, is charging a couple of oil speculators with manipulating the market, driving up prices and cashing in on the deal. You do remember those high gas prices back in 2008, right?

Speculators are also responsible for the most recent spike in prices. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and her brethren are blind to that but she says she's looking out for her constituents.

I had no idea we had so many oil companies and oil speculators in Eastern Washington.


Anonymous said...

I have trouble seeing oil policy as a Republican vs Democratic issue. Obama has extensively expanded oil drilling throughout the US, just recently announcing a further expansion. He expanded drilling in the Gulf just before the BP spill, and his administration is partially responsible both for the lax oversight that led to the deaths on the rig and damage to environment and economy, and his own commission pointed a finger at his administration for the coverup of the oil damage from the spill (which is ongoing).

It would be nice to fault the Republicans, but the difference is really to an inconsequential degree. The Democrats may tilt more toward the nuclear industry under Obama, but that is not really reassuring.

Nobody to vote for on this issue.

Hank Greer said...

I think the difference is the Republican's virulent pursuit of drilling. Plus they keep emphasizing the bogus selling point that more drilling is going to reduce gas prices.

Since the bill that reduces the budget for the Consumer Futures Trading Commission hasn't been presented yet, it may be too early to tell if there's Democratic support for it.

Spokane Al said...

It is so easy to blame “speculators” instead of looking a bit deeper. In order to transact a futures contract there must be a willing buyer and a willing seller – one is betting the price will go higher and the other is betting the opposite. When buyers outnumber sellers prices rise until equilibrium is reached – simple economics.

Instead I suggest we look at the massive ramp up in demand for oil over the past few years, specifically from China and India. Demand increases and as a result prices increase.

Hank Greer said...

Al, it's true there is increasing demand, especially in China. But oil prices rose suddenly and peaked in the summer back on 2008 even though demand was being met by supply. That's true this year, too. Even oil executives admitted that during their recent testimony during a Senate hearing.

Anonymous said...

The Democrats have held the White, house, all administrative agencies, both houses, and even had a super-majority in the Senate. They have expanded drilling, failed to regulate the oil industry, and have done nothing remotely applicable to global warming. As far as speculation, the Democratic controlled government controls a strategic reserve and drilling subsidies.

Sorry, I don't think the Democrats have any more credibility on this issue than Republicans, or then either party does on issues like the Patriot Act or our illegal war in Libya.

Nobody to vote for.

Even Zimbabwe has a real opposition party. Why can't the US have actual electoral options?