Friday, June 20, 2008

The Real Reason Gasoline Costs What It Does and Drilling Off-Shore Won't Help

This is a letter I have written to the local newspaper, the Key West Citizen, that is being published Sunday, June 22.

"In the most recent bloviating from the Oil Industry and their apologists, lobbyists and deluded advocates, comes the surprising declaration by Florida Governor Charlie Crist who now says he is for off-shore oil drilling, just as is Senator John McCain, reversing both of their positions of only a brief time ago, and on the heels of President George W. Bush pronouncing his long-held position it is time to open all US territories for exploitation. What could they really be proposing in their appeal for tapping US natural reserves?
Drilling off-shore from the Florida Keys, and the Alaskan (ANWR) region does not achieve any measure of energy independence from the imported cartels. The carbon energy industry says it will make a difference if only they could have free reign over any source yet unexploited to lower the price of gasoline and heating oil.
Here are the facts that need the full attention of the public and policy makers. These facts, though, expose the true purpose of the rush to declare pristine regions as fair game to be exploited. It was then, and is now, all about profits. The industry whines that their billions of bucks aren’t enough and profit margin is a measly 8.5% for an industry with every loophole written to their advantage.
The current conservative movement’s ideas are simply bankrupt, offering up the status quo of just pumping more, keep on doing what we’ve been doing – and then expecting a different outcome, which is the stock definition of being insane. Be sure to mouth some green phrases as a sop, though.
Bush’s own Department of Energy has found that drilling in the Alaskan refuge would only result in prices being lowered by 75 cents a barrel, and not until 2025. It lowers gasoline by a whopping 2 cents a gallon.
Now McCain and Crist say the 18-21 billion barrels offshore must be tapped. The same DOE says it would reduce oil $1.50 a barrel. Together, a six cent reduction per gallon. In 17 years.
So where are the real profits? Look at the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, aka, the Enron Loophole Act, which deregulated the futures market. Energy companies bought up futures and created a shortage on paper, when none actually exists. More profit here. The pump jack up exploits consumer fears, who are now primed to accept any measure, like off-shore drilling, even when irrational. Wailing we must drill is a smokescreen to hide how energy speculators are still reaping their handiwork, with every mile we travel. Asking to rip up more offshore, when industry already has millions of unutilized acres, is rapacious. Last week, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee reported that “Speculators have now stockpiled, via the futures market, the equivalent of 1.1 billion barrels of petroleum, effectively adding eight times as much oil to their own stockpile as the US has added to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over the last five years”. The industry has bet we are willing “sheeple”.
The Enron Loophole, whose revocation McCain had once supported and now has lobbyists oh his staff resisting its enforcement, reveals the real design in this misguided, insane ploy that saves a couple pennies. Common sense is totally lacking. Oil companies need to stop fooling the public. Their gain. Our pain."

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