High gas prices? My congressman has a plan — blame Democrats

My representative in Congress, the Hon. John R. “Randy” Kuhl, R-N.Y., has sent me a four-color brochure labeled “Energy Report.” It is by far the most misleading document I’ve ever received from a member of Congress.

It deceives his constituents by offering only illusions of and false hopes for much-cheaper gasoline. But he’s not alone. He promotes a Republican-pushed bill that falsely promises salvation — and soon — from $4 a gallon gasoline.

Rep. Kuhl asks a question we’re all concerned with — “Why are gas prices so high?” His answer consists of faulting Democrats for failing to enact a Republican-sponsored initiative. By choosing an arbitrary spot in time — January 2007, the transfer of majority power to Democrats in the House — he blames House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a $1.64 per gallon price increase over the past 18 months. (He uses the June 4 national average of $3.98 as his benchmark.)

He describes a so-called “Democratic Plan to Lower Gas Prices” with “Savings Achieved.” According to Rep. Kuhl’s calculations, the Democratic “plan” — suing OPEC, launching investigations into “Price Gougers” and “Speculators,” imposing a $20 billion tax on oil producers, and halting shipments to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — would save only a nickel a gallon.

On the contrary, Rep. Kuhl claims that the “Republican Plan to Lower Gas Prices” would reduce gas prices to $2.00 a gallon if adopted. Here’s his plan with potential savings, according to the congressman’s brochure:

• Bring U.S. oil online (ANWR + other exploration = $0.70 – $1.60
• Bring deepwater oil reserves online = $0.90 – $2.80
• Bring new oil refineries online = $0.15 – $0.45
• Cut earmark spending to fund “Gas Tax Holiday” = $0.18
• Halt oil shipments to SPR = $0.05

The deceits:

Rep. Kuhl offers no sources for his data. Remember, many constituents may take this material at face value without confirming his facts independently because this came from my congressman. He wouldn’t mislead me.

Rep. Kuhl outlines potential GOP plan savings as ranges. He wisely uses the minimum of the range to show how the “plan” would achieve a $2 a gallon price. But the maximum savings — if all occurred — would lower the price of gasoline to minus $1.10 a gallon, according to his numbers. If the maximum is so unbelievable, why should the minimum be any more believable, especially in the absence of sources for his figures?

The brochure contains no wording to correct any impression of the casual reader that the GOP plan savings could be accomplished immediately. Look what Rep. Kuhl outlines as GOP initiatives for savings — exploration and construction that would require at minimum a decade before crude oil would flow or gasoline would be refined. Nor does Rep. Kuhl figure in the impact of inflation, let alone geopolitical unrest or increasing demand, on his $3.98 gasoline before those decade-from-now initiatives would pay off. And he never mentions curtailing speculation as part of the “Republican Plan.”

A press release on Rep. Kuhl’s Web site — touting his $2-a-gallon plan as the The No More Excuses Energy Act, H.R. 3089 — similarly contains no sources for the data in what he calls the “Republican Energy Agenda.”

H.R. 3089 would shortcut regulation by a variety of federal agencies in the name of haste. Here are highlights of the bill that don’t appear in Rep. Kuhl’s brochure or other GOP lower-gas-prices rhetoric:

• Requires the President to designate at least 10 sites for oil or natural gas refineries on federal lands and make such sites available to the private sector for construction of refineries.
• Prohibits the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from denying an application for nuclear waste disposal on the grounds of present or future insufficient capacity.
• Terminates all existing federal laws prohibiting expenditures to conduct oil and natural gas leasing and preleasing activities in the Outer Continental Shelf.
• American-Made Energy and Good Jobs Act – Directs the Secretary of the Interior to establish and implement a competitive oil and gas leasing program in the Coastal Plain of Alaska.
Repeals the prohibition against producing oil and gas from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. [emphasis added; see full text]

The bill provides fast-track provisions for refineries and oil exploration and production. It promises jobs, always a political carrot. In terms of environmental protection of the coastal plain, it contains two curiously conflicting provisions in section 427:

• No Significant Adverse Effect Standard … (1) ensure the oil and gas exploration, development, and production activities on the Coastal Plain will result in no significant adverse effect on fish and wildlife, their habitat, and the environment …
• Site-Specific Assessment and Mitigation … (2) a plan be implemented to avoid, minimize, and mitigate (in that order and to the extent practicable) any significant adverse effect identified under paragraph (1)

In other words: Don’t hurt anything, but if you do, try to fix it. In Republican philosophy, environmental mitigation equals environmental protection. And who gets to define significant?

Rep. Kuhl’s brochure doesn’t bother his constituents with such trifles. It provides only instruction on whom to blame (the Democrats) for $4 gasoline and how fast gas prices will fall (soon, real soon).

Rep. Kuhl isn’t alone in selling this bill as a panacea for today’s pump prices. Consider this from the Web site of bill co-sponsor Rep. Tim Wahlberg, R-Mich.:

This appropriately named legislation would immediately impact the price at the pump by encouraging construction of new refineries, reducing greenhouse emissions, boosting alternative energy development, increasing American oil production and encouraging the construction of new nuclear power plants.

Immediately? Hardly. And new nuke plants, too?

A year ago, in introducing the bill, prime sponsor Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, pushed the theme of immediacy on his House Web site: “It is fashionable these days to see who can come up with the plan that reduces energy consumption the most. I think most Americans want a different kind of competition — one that tries to see how we can increase domestic energy production the fastest [emphasis added.]”

A year later, he ‘fessed up to the Times Herald News of Wichita Falls that “immediate” isn’t “today”: “If we passed this bill today, it doesn’t mean gas goes cheap today.” But in an election year, that little bit of “truthiness” gets buried by the minority party in the House.

Meanwhile, in the Pompous Use of Rhetoric to Avoid Responsibility for High Gas Prices Department, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., has challenged all 435 members of the House to sign a petition that reads: “I will vote to increase U.S. oil production to lower gas prices for Americans.” So far, all but five of the 191 who have signed are Republicans. And yes, Rep. Kuhl has signed on as well.

The No More Excuses bill has 79 co-sponsors. I wonder what their franked mailings are telling their constituents about high gasoline prices.

15 replies »

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  2. I’ve come to love reading federal legislation, with all the frighteningly open-ended weasel language.

    It’s almost like it was written by lawyers, not real people with common sense. Oh, wait, it was written by lawyers….

  3. I loved reading Kuhl’s bill. It was forwarded to me from a big energy trader friend of mine, and we both laughed our asses off. Neither party gets the geo-realities of the oil market, or economic implications of any market for that matter. The government bureaucrats just don’t realize that markets are so much bigger than governments.

    I was thinking the other day that y’all should invite some conservative authors over to this site. Discussion could occur in the spirit of Franklin, and ideas could be exchanged and debated without malice or rancor. I’ve noticed some conservative blogs have been including liberal articles, and the mood has been spirited, yet very polite. It’s something for y’all to consider. Not all conservatives are the idiots that have been lampooned on this site, and that we all share the same aims of a better world.

    I’ll see y’all in a week or so, as my son John and I are going to take a quick trip to Paris to go buy some art at the Sotheby’s Impressionist auction. I’ll also try to bring back a few more bottles of Absinthe.

    Have fun while I’m gone.



  4. Jeff:

    Thanks for your comment. If you have in mind some particular conservatives, by all means pass on some names.

  5. You Libs just dont get it. If you vote Republican, gas will not just immediately be free, but they will pay you $1.10 per gallon to use it!

    Praise Jesus!

    Now I can keep driving my Hummer to Church.

  6. How about starting by having all oil pump in the US, stay in the US. As it is know, much of the Alaskan oil goes to Japan.

  7. Love the delusion. Also, to solve the oil problem, you don’t keep using oil. That’s like curing a heroin addict by injecting him with more heroin. But all’s in the name of saving US oil capitalism.

  8. I got the same letter from Trent Franks in Arizona, so I guess this is a coordinated effort.

  9. Fred, that is something the ditto heads don’t understand.
    They cannot wrap their small minds around the concept of a “Global Market”.
    If the US drills now all the oil will go to China.
    If the US drills China will boost it’s subsidies back up and soon their annual consumption of oil will exceed the US.
    Once our oil is gone, it is gone forever!
    I say we do not drill anymore in the US until the oil is Nationalized, this way it will only be used in the US and not by China.
    As long as we can still buy oil from the Mideast there is NO reason to drill for more oil domestically, since it will do nothing to improve our situation.

  10. Dr. Denny,

    I’ve made some inquiries with some of my conservative friends, and will get back to you. George Will was interested, but when he saw that hatchet hob, politely declined. Some friends over at the National Review are looking over the site and will get back to me. After they let me know, yea or nay, I’ll forward a list to Dr. Slammy or Jim Booth, as they are the only ones on this list with whom I have a valid e-mail address. If you let a prominent conservative post a guest article, please edit the responses carefully, as ad hominem attacks and flames aren’t befitting of a site of this nature..