What should we do about high gas prices?

Every candidate for president, the U.S. Senate and Congress should be asked the following question this year: Do you want the price of gasoline to come down?

Every candidate for president, the U.S. Senate and Congress should be asked the following question this year: Do you want the price of gasoline to come down?

The question is relevant because many politicians don’t. They believe that higher gas prices mean more people shedding their cars and riding mass transit, which means less driving and less pollution.

They also hope that higher prices will make it more enticing for entrepreneurs to develop cars that run on alternative sources of energy.

But most Americans are incensed that a gallon of gasoline in this area now sells for more than $4.37 — up by more than a third in just one year — and they are worried about where the country is headed.

Here is where we are headed.

If nothing changes, gasoline will probably cost $5 a gallon this time next year and $6 a gallon within two years.

What are presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain willing to do to change that? Closer to home, what are Congressman Dave Richert and his Democrat challenger Darcy Burner willing to do to change that?

So far the Democrats are content to demonize oil companies. They summoned them to Capitol Hill and called them names in front of the cameras. They accused ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco for somehow setting prices with other big oil companies and getting away with it.

If only it were that easy.

Exxon is routinely referred to as the world’s biggest company. That’s not quite right. ExxonMobil is actually the largest PRIVATE business. Most of the world’s leading oil companies are owned by foreign governments. And on that list, Exxon doesn’t make the top 10. According to PetroStrategies, Inc., the biggest firm is the National Iranian Oil Company, followed by the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, the Iraq National Oil Company, the Quatar General Petroleum Corporation, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and half a dozen other firms controlled by Venezuela, Libya, Nigeria and Russia. Within that list is the OPEC cartel that sets and skews the market price for oil.

ExxonMobil comes in at No. 17. Painting devil’s horns on their executives does exactly nothing to bring down the price of oil.

Most of the drilling for oil today is being done in the above-named countries, which is where most of our money is flowing.

Noel Sheppard points out in the National Review that since 1980 Canada has increased its output of crude oil by 85 percent. Mexico has also increased its output. But during that same time, America’s production has declined by 22 percent.

It would appear that America’s energy policy under both Democratic and Republican administrations for the last 20 years is to import more oil and send more money to countries whose governments don’t like us.

That’s what the price of gasoline really reflects: the price tag for America’s government not allowing drilling off the coast, even if it’s out of sight. Or up in Alaska, including the massive, mostly barren Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Or on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, where there could be three times the amount of oil in shale than the Saudis are sitting on now.

Forty years ago, the Alaska Pipeline proved that unearthing oil and protecting the environment could be done literally side by side.

John McCain has taken a step, albeit a small one, in calling for more drilling off the coasts. The Democrats say no, and demand a tax on Exxon’s profits.

OK, so the Democrats hate oil companies, we get that. Can they please get serious about how to reduce the price of gasoline? Or do they really want the price to come down?

John Carlson broadcasts a daily radio commentary on KOMO 1000 news. E-mail him at jcarlson@fisherradio.com.


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