Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tiahrt presents a gusher of oil ignorance

Todd Tiahrt's efforts to convince us that drilling for more domestic oil will decrease gasoline costs will be more successful if he sports a moustache and speaks in a silly accent ala Daniel Day Lewis. The Wichita Eagle today ran a great article pointing out Tiahrt's argument for more drilling and how Tiahrt is completely owned by the oil companies, he largest campaign donor.

Let's look at the basic facts and show why Tiahrt has no solutions. First off America provides 2% of the global reserves for oil. America also consumes 25% of the world's oil production. Unless Tiahrt can produce a long enough straw to suck Saudi Arabia's milkshake we will never produce enough oil to get us off of foreign oil nor will our meager reserves have an affect on the global market price for oil. However, given that we consume so much if we were to reduce our consumption then that would have a grander and more immediate affect.

When you figure that 70% of our oil consumption goes towards transportation the smartest thing to do would be to increase fuel efficiency in our automobiles. When it comes to leadership on reducing our consumption by increased fuel efficiency Tiahrt has failed us. He has continually voted against higher CAFE standards. All the while when Republicans were in the majority in Congress higher CAFE standards were voted down. It wasn't until Democrats took the majority in Congress was there a minor increase in the standards but even those were watered down in order to get a majority vote in the Senate where there are only 49 Democrats. When higher standards were proposed in the Clinton administration the Republicans responded by passing measures to block any higher standards. This is the leadership Republicans like Senator McCain, Roberts and Rep. Tiahrt have shown over the years. They kept us in this mess and it will take Democratic leadership to fix the problems Republicans caused, yet again.

Right now the oil companies are sitting on numerous approved drilling permits that they have refused to exploit. More land is set aside for drilling than has been set aside for wind and solar combined. Companies like Exxon have been sitting on permits in the Alaskan North Slope for over 30 years and when Alaska tried to get the unused leases back Exxon sued.

The entire purpose for the oil companies wanting more leases is to generate claims of higher reserves which increases their company's stock value. Currently oil companies are using their excess profits for stock buy back programs which increases the value of the stock. The largest shareholders in companies like Exxon are the Board of Directors so they are just making themselves richer while you pay more at the tank. The secondary effect of hogging up more leases is it prevents independent wildcatters from getting in on the action. When the large companies can dominate the supply they have more control over the price. Have you ever heard of a company complaining it had too much money and just lowered prices out of charity?

Drilling in ANWR will reduce gas prices by a penny per gallon once that oil hits the market. It's expected to hit the market in about 10 years so drilling in ANWR isn't an immediate solution, it isn't a solution at all. Tiahrt promises it will result in cheaper gas, then again, the oil from Iraq was supposed to be $20 a barrel now since we invaded.

The quickest solution is to increase efficiency. Improved aerodynamics, low rolling resistance tires, carbon fiber bodies, integrated battery assistance, plug in hybrids, all electric cars, these are all technologies that we currently have that can reduce oil demand. Just like America rapidly transformed its economy to deal with the fascist threat so too can America convert to a more efficient economy.

Tiahrt has proven his failure in leadership. He has continually voted against higher fuel efficiency standards, he has voted against financing research into alternative energy, and he stands beside Bush while he threatens oil producing nations with war thereby causing commodity traders to increase the price of oil on Wall Street. Given his record of failure the best alternative is to support Donald Betts, who, along with Senator Obama, have a plan to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and truly lower gas prices.

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