Meanwhile, Congress forces refiners to use ethanol in their fuel blends. A large part of the recent increase in gasoline prices has occurred because the price of ethanol has almost doubled in the last year, and logistical hurdles block its widespread use. Remove these mandates, and prices will decline.
The long-term solution to our energy woes also would require congressional action. We need to increase domestic supply and refining capacity.
Tens of billions of barrels of oil are available right here in the United States. They’re under the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and off the coasts of California, Florida and other states. But federal law doesn’t allow companies to drill for that oil. Lawmakers should change that.
Meanwhile, President Bush recently called on oil companies to reinvest profits in new refining technology. They probably would, if they could. But legislation and regulation has made it virtually impossible to open a new refinery; we haven’t brought a new refinery online in three decades. No wonder prices are skyrocketing.
With vacation season underway, Americans can expect a long summer of accusations. “Anyone who is trying to take advantage of this situation,” Hastert and Frist wrote, “should be investigated and prosecuted.”
Yet it’s lawmakers themselves who are taking advantage. They’re using high fuel prices to score rhetorical points when they should be taking action to increase gasoline supplies. The question is, will they act? Or simply keep complaining?