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Blame the right people for gas prices

By Henry Lamb
web posted March 24, 2004

A gas station in Menlo Park, Calif., has gas posted on March 23 prices as high as $3.119 per gallon
A gas station in Menlo Park, Calif., has gas posted on March 23 prices as high as $3.119 per gallon

As gasoline prices continue to climb, finger-pointing is becoming a national pastime. Led by Senator Ted Kennedy, of all people, Senate Democrats say they are "outraged that the administration is not doing everything in its power to alleviate the strain on drivers, consumers and businesses."

This same Ted Kennedy, and Tom Daschle, have led Senate Democrats to block the administration's energy bill. They have done everything in their power to increase the strain on drivers, consumers and businesses, by blocking every attempt to increase domestic oil production.

Americans have every right to be angry, as they watch the rising price of gasoline take a bigger bite out of their paycheck. But their anger should be directed toward the real cause of the unnecessary price increases: irresponsible reverence for the environment.

Anger should be focused on the League of Conservation Voters, and the Senator they have endorsed for President. Anger should be focused on the Sierra club, the National Wildlife Federation, Greenpeace, Defenders of Wildlife and the horde of environmental organizations that go ballistic whenever anyone proposes to drill a new oil well or build a new refinery.

Had these organizations, and their well-funded congressional puppets, not blocked exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge when it was first proposed, oil from that abundant supply would soon be coming on line to relieve supply pressure which forces prices upward.

But no. In every Congress for a decade, efforts to open ANWR have been met by massive, misleading anti-oil campaigns. The League of Conservation voters claims that the oil there would last only six months. But the U.S. Energy Information Agency says that ANWR would increase domestic production by twenty percent.

Environmental organizations raise millions of dollars from mail campaigns that claim drilling in ANWR will destroy the last masterpiece of God's creation. The truth is that drilling in ANWR will affect only .01% - that's, right, one-tenth of one percent - of the nineteen million acre refuge.

ANWR is the symbol for the greens' war on fossil fuel. Any use of fossil fuels is bad, according to the green gospel, and government should force society to turn to "alternative" fuels. This idiotic belief has resulted in regulations which add to the upward pressure on gas prices. For example, fuel producers now have to formulate as many as 18 different blends to accommodate EPA requirements in different markets.

These same environmental organizations, and Senate Democrats, bashed the Bush administration unmercifully for withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol. John Kerry in particular, wants the U.S. to submit to the Protocol, which would give a U.N. agency the power to not only regulate fossil fuel consumption in America, but to impose an arbitrary tax as well.

Anger about high gasoline prices should be directed at these green organizations and toward the congressmen who continue to do their bidding, by blocking expansion of domestic oil production. Environmental organizations are quick to point a finger at the "big oil companies" for price gouging, and Senate Democrats take pleasure in blaming the Bush administration. The internet is full of schemes to force "big oil" to lower prices by boycotting selected suppliers.

The cause of escalating prices is simple: the demand for oil is outstripping supply. Far too much of our supply comes from foreign sources, over which the United States has little or no control.

The solution is equally simple: increase domestic oil production. And the best place to start is in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, followed by further exploration and production from federal lands and from domestic off shore reserves.

Increasing domestic oil production will not destroy the environment, as the green organizations contend. Modern technology offers increased production with hardly any adverse environmental impacts. Increased domestic production will not only reduce the price of gasoline, it will provide hundreds of thousands of jobs needed to further stimulate the American economy.

Americans should by now be weary of the environmentalists' claim that we can significantly reduce the demand for energy, if we only "conserve." We have conserved by improving the efficiency of fuel use. But, there is a limit on the effectiveness of conservation efforts. Further calls for conservation measures to solve the energy problem, are like suggesting fasting as a cure for starvation.

The solution to the energy problem lies in ignoring the environmental organizations, and getting a handful of senators to do the same.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty International.

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