Thursday, October 16, 2008

Crude Mistake

from: Investor's Business Daily

Crude Mistake

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, May 16, 2008 4:20 PM PT

"Energy: With the price of oil spiking above $127 a barrel, the search for scapegoats has begun. Some point to the Saudis, OPEC's No. 1 producer. Others blame the oil companies. We have a better candidate: Congress.

As President Bush traveled to Saudi Arabia to ask the House of Saud to open the oil spigots a bit wider, Congress showed once again how clueless it is when it comes to energy policy.

Underscoring its failure to grasp the nature of our current problems, the Senate Appropriations Committee on Friday refused to end its moratorium on oil shale development in Colorado.

"If we are really serious about reducing pain at the pump," Colorado's senior senator, Republican Wayne Allard, said, "this is a vote that would make a difference in people's lives." He's right.

But the shale proposal went down to defeat with Allard and 13 other Republican members in favor and 15 Democrats opposed. Once again, Democrats were on the wrong side, opting to keep oil in the ground and punish you with higher prices as a result.

This was no minor thing. Estimates put the amount of oil locked in shale in both Canada and the U.S. at more than 1 trillion barrels. Pulling out even a tenth of that would quadruple our current reserves.

This is the same Congress that refuses to allow drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which holds up to 20 billion barrels of crude, or offshore, where another 30 billion await.

Meanwhile, Brazil — which recently made a major oil discovery almost in sight of Rio's beaches — announced that it has leased 80% of the world's deep-sea offshore oil rigs. In other words, Brazil unlike the U.S., isn't dithering as prices soar. It's drilling.

If you think Congress' decision-making on energy couldn't get any worse, think again. While Bush was in Riyadh urging the Saudis to pump more oil, congressional Democrats were busy undercutting him, threatening to halt arms sales to our Mideast ally.

It was a politically peevish move with consequences both for U.S. energy security and the balance of power. If we don't sell arms to Saudi Arabia, Russia will. The result would be a loss of American leverage with the Saudis, who, like many, feel threatened by a nuclear Iran and the menace of al-Qaida.

At least Bush convinced the Saudis to boost output 300,000 barrels a day. That helps. But we still have to do more ourselves.

The U.S. uses about 21 million barrels of oil a day. But only 8 million come from our own sources. That leaves a 13-million-barrel-a-day deficit that, at $126 a barrel, will cost us $600 billion to plug this year. That's more than two-thirds of our total trade deficit.

Congress could reduce much of our oil shortfall by drilling for more on our own territory. This would lower prices and increase security. Yet, Congress seems dead set on doing the opposite.

With its failure to tap the vast supplies in ANWR and offshore, its passage of costly global-warming legislation and now its refusal to exploit our massive resources of oil shale, Congress has set us on a path to less energy, higher prices and weakened national security."

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