Dan Gainor

     Angry about the price of gas? It used to be you could simply blame Bill Clinton.

     In December 1995, Clinton helped make sure our margin for error with oil supplies would one day be no margin at all. Clinton vetoed a budget that authorized drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Cowardly congressmen refused to overturn that veto that placed our oil security firmly in the hands of nations that hate our guts.

     In mid-May, Congress repeated its mistake. According to the Associated Press, the Senate “rejected a Republican energy plan that calls for opening an Alaska wildlife refuge and some offshore waters to oil development.” The left doesn’t want to drill for oil because of fears about the climate. Our candidates didn’t do well in the vote. Both Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) voted against drilling. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who recently said “global warming presents a test of foresight, of political courage,” was AWOL for the vote.

     It’s estimated bringing that oil to market would take 10 years. Thanks to Clinton I, we are unable to access ANWR’s vast oil reserves. Now we are out of luck until the next vote. Those reserves are estimated at up to 16 billion barrels of oil. Oil is trading at about $125 a barrel. That’s potentially $2 trillion in wealth held hostage by stupidity. Oil experts claim we need to develop just about 2,000 out of 19 million acres to get at the oil. That works out to $1 billion an acre.

     CBS “60 Minutes” reporter Lesley Stahl took a trip to the desolate area and showed it’s the kind of place that makes Siberia look like Miami Beach. That hasn’t stopped more than a decade of propaganda campaigns portraying something akin to an Alaskan Eden and warning of threats to wildlife.

     Such stonewalling works in Washington. Politicians won’t lead when they risk being seen as anti- the media's crusade du jour. Lately, the media pound us with the “green is good” mantra. Anyone who dares challenge it is called a “denier” or a tool of oil interests, as opposed to someone who is just worried about our economy and our energy needs.

     The current Congress and all three presidential candidates show us how foolishly they pander for votes and refuse to fix any of our energy problems. McCain and Hillary Clinton are pushing for a frivolous gas holiday. It would be great to get a tax break. But this isn’t a pardon; it’s a brief stay of execution. 

     Obama opposes the holiday because it conflicts with his position to increase energy taxes. Unsurprisingly, Clinton talks out of both sides of her mouth on this – promoting the gas tax holiday while vowing to hike taxes on oil companies. The latter is the Obama plan – tax oil companies. The “windfall profits” tax would assault oil firms because they are large. Though they have average profit percentages, their huge overall numbers elicit outrage from politicians and the media, who rant without the necessary context.

     All three candidates have global warming plans that are similarly foolish and would further harm our energy future. The Wall Street Journal called McCain’s plan “Obama-lite” because it’s just a little less devastating. McCain has risked conservative support with his push to return carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and achieve “at least a reduction of sixty percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050.”

     Al Gore, the patron saint of climate change, would have cut U.S. emissions to just 7 percent below 1990 levels in the failed Kyoto treaty. Even that would have cost billions of dollars and millions of jobs. The McCain/Obama/Clinton idea of emissions limits would mandate restrictions on energy use like we’ve never seen.

     ANWR’s trillions of dollars worth of oil are a particular conundrum for the candidates. On one hand, that oil helps push America toward a fantasy of “energy independence.” On the other, it offends environmentalists who oppose drilling and use of oil.

     Meanwhile, gas prices continue to rise. And the congressional “solution” to the gas crisis is to stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve – just 70,000 barrels of oil a day. The U.S. uses about 21 million barrels each day. That’s an energy solution only Nero – or Bill Clinton – could love.


Dan Gainor

Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Free Market Fellow and director of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute.