President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain went to bat on energy policy this week. And guess what? They both struck out.
Mr. Bush went hat in hand to the Saudis to ask for more oil production in order to bring down world prices. He whiffed. They said no for the second time this year.
ExxonMobil chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson said it’s “astonishing” that Mr. Bush keeps asking Saudi Arabia to pump more oil, rather than working harder for increased oil production at home. Mr. Tillerson called this “terribly upside down,” and went on to say the president should be fighting to open U.S. coastal waters to drilling and production on the outer continental shelf. He correctly wants to end the federal moratorium on such off-shore drilling, where kajillions of barrels of oil and natural gas are being completely ignored.
Motorists are furious with oil at $125 a barrel and a $4 pump price for gas. And they seem to be taking it out on the GOP. That may not be fair, since Mr. Bush does favor a pro-production energy policy that includes off-shore drilling, building refineries, clean-coal development, oil sands, natural gas, and nuclear power. But Democrats in Congress stridently oppose these ideas, as does Hill-Bama on the campaign trail. They want an excess-profits tax. Brilliant.
Nonetheless, the longer the energy stalemate lasts, the angrier voters get. You can see it in consumer-confidence polls that are now hitting twenty-five year lows.
What’s to be done?
Sen. McCain weighed in with a cap-and-trade program that he alleges will solve our global climate and energy problem. It’s a bad idea. It’s really a cap-and-kill-the-economy plan, as well as an unlimited spend-and-tax-and-regulate plan. It’s a huge government command-and-control operation that would make any old Soviet Gosplan bureaucrat smile.
Ironically, the U.S. has virtually the cleanest air of any country in the world. And market forces over the past thirty years have increased all manner of energy efficiency per unit of GDP by more than 50 percent. In fact, according the editorial page of Investor’s Business Daily, U.S. carbon emissions grew by only 6.6 percent between 1997 and 2004, compared with 18 percent for the world and 21 percent for the nations that signed the Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gasses. (Think Europe.)
Then there’s a bunch of scientists who don’t think we have a global-warming problem at all. And many who do acknowledge the threat link it to solar warming, or increased solar activity, rather than carbon.
Cap-and-trade, in other words, may very well be unnecessary. Meanwhile, it will surely reduce economic growth in the years ahead.