Monday, April 25, 2005

The Politics of Oil

President Bush intends to ask Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah to boost Saudi Arabia’s oil production when the two leaders meet later today. CNN reports that Bush believes an increase in Saudi production will help drive down oil and gas prices.

For the President, energy has long been first and foremost a national security issue. During the 2000 presidential election, CBS reported in Sept 2000 that Bush blasted Vice President Al Gore saying:

They have had seven-and-a-half years to develop a sound energy policy. They have had every chance to avoid the situation that confronts us today," Bush said.
CBS’ 2000 report continued:
Seeking to capitalize on consumers' oil anxiety, the Texas governor and former Texas oil man went to Michigan to lay out his supply-side energy plan.

Bush is pushing a $7.1 billion plan over 10 years to increase the nation's fuel sources, protect the environment and reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil. The most controversial part of his plan is a proposal to open up a portion of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration. The spectacular, 19-million acre preserve was put off limits to oil drilling by Congress two decades ago.
Bush has repeatedly asked Congress to pass energy legislation that he claims will eventually bring down gas costs by reducing U.S. dependence on imported oil. However, the President’s refusal to compromise on key components of the legislation (notably drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, among other components) has doomed the legislation.

The president also contends he can do little in the interim, prior to Congressional adoption of the Energy Bill, to lower energy costs. However, there is a lot he can do to encourage conservation and reduce US consumption of oil (starting with calling for higher fuel efficiency standards for automobiles in the Transportation bill also working its way through Congress).

Energy self-sufficiency starts not with reducing reliance on foreign producers, but with reducing demand here at home. The president’s failures to adopt measures that reduce energy demand have created a stronger dependence of foreign oil than existed in 2000.


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