Thomas Friedman on the National Energy Policy Question

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is great to see that we finally have some national unity on energy policy. Unfortunately, the unifying idea is so ridiculous, so unworthy of the people aspiring to lead our nation, it takes your breath away. Hillary Clinton has decided to line up with John McCain in pushing to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for this summer’s travel season. This is not an energy policy. This is money laundering: we borrow money from China and ship it to Saudi Arabia and take a little cut for ourselves as it goes through our gas tanks. What a way to build our country.

When the summer is over, we will have increased our debt to China, increased our transfer of wealth to Saudi Arabia and increased our contribution to global warming for our kids to inherit.

No, no, no, we’ll just get the money by taxing Big Oil, says Mrs. Clinton. Even if you could do that, what a terrible way to spend precious tax dollars — burning it up on the way to the beach rather than on innovation?

The McCain-Clinton gas holiday proposal is a perfect example of what energy expert Peter Schwartz of Global Business Network describes as the true American energy policy today: “Maximize demand, minimize supply and buy the rest from the people who hate us the most.”

Good for Barack Obama for resisting this shameful pandering.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural ResourcesUS Presidential Election 2008* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

Posted April 30, 2008 at 1:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Dilbertnomore wrote:

The law of supply and demand seems to be laid aside in this rush by politicians to be seen ‘doing something.’ Much as I would like to see the federal fuels tax reduced or eliminated, it won’t make any substantial difference in the price consumers pay for gasoline or diesel fuel at the pump. Until either supply increases or demand decreases prices will stay where they are. Should we become the recipients of a ‘tax holiday’ for this narrowly framed period of time, the market will perceive a small price reduction which the market will respond to by increasing demand which will increase the price.

For anyone who cares, the real answer is to increase the supply. That can be done by drilling in ANWR and off-shore along Florida, the Gulf of Mexico and off California, expand our refining capability, suspend the requirement for area-specific custom gasoline mixtures, and expand nuclear power for electricity generation.

The ‘let’s all be green’ approach merely slaps a fresh coat of lipstick on the pig. But we can all feel good about it.

May 1, 12:01 pm | [comment link]
2. magnolia wrote:

i disagree #1. i for one would love to see alternatives given a real push. yes, it would take generations to change over but heck we weren’t always addicted to oil. just think about the jobs and opportunities that might come about if we all worked together on this.

i don’t think destroying species and poisoning the ocean and stockpiling nuclear waste is the answer. to me is is akin to giving drugs to addicts.

May 1, 12:51 pm | [comment link]
3. Dilbertnomore wrote:

I, too, would love to see alternatives become a viable choice. Regrettably, there is no free lunch.

As to destroying species, wind farms kill many birds.

As to poisoning the oceans, perhaps you are referring to the areas near the oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico where the sport fisherman all go to catch the really big ones that treat the platforms like they are big reefs.

Nuclear waste is a bit more of an issue, but as France derives ~80% of its electricity from nuclear plants perhaps we can learn better practices from studying how they do it. Yuca Mountain looks like a pretty good alternative to me.

You didn’t mention ANWR. The area actually to be drilled upon is about the size of Dulles International Airport - a tiny piece of ANWR and an insignificantly small piece of Alaska. And the people most directly affected, Alaska residents overwhelmingly want to see ANWR opened up for oil exploration.

I wish we could be pure as the driven snow in our energy use, but even in the good old horse and buggy days there were nasty emission concerns. The source was the south end of north bound horses. Think how many horses we would need now to replace cars.

Reality is we are an energy consuming society and petroleum gives the most bang for the buck at this time. Bio-fuels looked good until the ugly truth of their impact on the poorest and most vulnerable populations was exposed.

I stand by my post. We need to stop navel-gazing and get on with drilling and refining and standardizing gasoline mixtures and building nuclear power plants.

When alternatives make sense the market will flock to invest in them and we couldn’t stop them if we tried.

May 1, 1:46 pm | [comment link]
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