Friday, June 8, 2007

Inhofe Welcomes New Wetlands Guidance

June 5, 2007

On Tuesday, Senator Inhofe welcomed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) issuance of new wetlands guidance under the Clean Water Act. The guidance follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the joint cases of Rapanos v. United States and Carabell v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on “The Waters of the United States.”

“I commend the EPA and the Corps for putting forth guidance to its regions on how to implement the Rapanos/Carabel Supreme Court case in which the Court clearly ruled that federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act is limited,” Senator Inhofe said. “The guidance should provide clarity to the regulated community and allow for an efficient process to determine federal jurisdiction.

“The federal government should not be regulating local and individual land use decisions.  A proper balance can be struck between protecting our nation’s waters and protecting the ability of the nation’s towns to determine their own growth patterns.  I am hopeful that the guidance has found this balance and appropriately interpreted the Court’s will to limit federal intrusion into these decisions.  

“With the guidance finally issued, it is now time for the Agencies to focus their attention on updating their regulations to reflect the Court decision.”

Related Information

· Last year, on Tuesday, August 1, 2006, the Subcommittee on Fish, Wildlife, and Water conducted a hearing, “Interpreting the Effect of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Recent Decision in the Joint Cases of Rapanos v. United States and Carabell v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on ‘The Waters of the United States’”  

· Senator Inhofe Op-Ed: Federal Wetlands Protection Programs are Working (The Hill, 4/24/07)

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Inhofe Welcomes Administration's Good Samaritan Announcement

June 6, 2007

Senator Inhofe welcomed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement on Wednesday of new policies that will reduce legal uncertainties for Good Samaritans to help reclaim hardrock mine sites responsible for degrading water quality throughout the western United States.

“I welcome the Administration's announcement today and hope that it results in the restoration of some of the thousands of miles of streams impacted by abandoned mines,” Senator Inhofe said. “With the Administration taking the first step today, I call on Senator Boxer to support and move bi-partisan legislation passed out of the EPW Committee last year that had wide-ranging support of Senators Baucus, Reid, Salazar and Allard that would help promote and facilitate the cleanup of the estimated 500,000 abandoned hard-rock mines. Doing so would provide a major environmental victory for our country.”

As Chairman of the EPW Committee last year,  Senator Inhofe worked closely with Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) to craft compromise legislation that incorporated President Bush’s Good Samaritan bill and Good Samaritan legislation co-sponsored by Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO)  that would help facilitate the cleanup of thousands of abandoned hard-rock mines across the Western United States. The Good Samaritan bill passed out of the EPW Committee had broad support by groups such as Trout Unlimited and National Mining Association.

Related Material:

PRESS RELEASE: EPW COMMITTEE PASSES BI-PARTISAN GOOD SAMARITAN LEGISLATION
PRESS RELEASE: INHOFE INTRODUCES PRESIDENT BUSH’S “GOOD SAMARITAN CLEAN WATERSHED ACT”
EPW COMMITTEE HEARING: OVERSIGHT HEARING TO CONSIDER WHETHER POTENTIAL LIABILITY DETERS ABANDONED HARD ROCK MINE CLEAN-UP (06/14/2006)

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New EPA Rule Outlines Way Forward For Removal of Chat from Tar Creek

June 6, 2007

Senator Inhofe on Wednesday praised the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new rule establishing guidelines for the environmentally protective use of chat in federally funded transportation projects. The rule establishes criteria for chat that is from the Tri-State Mining District of Ottawa County, Oklahoma; Cherokee County, Kansas; and Jasper, Newton, Lawrence and Barry counties in Missouri. 

“I am pleased EPA has issued final regulations on the provision I included in the federal highway bill.” Senator Inhofe said. “Many years of mining at Tar Creek produced several million tons of mine waste.  This mine waste or “chat”, however, has many commercial uses.  These regulations address environmentally acceptable uses for chat to further encourage its use commercially, and importantly, remove it from Tar Creek.  This is one more step toward addressing the environmental and human health issues that have plagued the Tar Creek area for many years.”

As Chairman of the Senate EPW Committee in 2005, Senator Inhofe included section 6018 in the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005 (SAFETE-LU) directing the Administrator of the EPA with the Secretary of Transportation to establish criteria for the safe and environmentally protective use of chat mine tailings from the Tar Creek for cement or concrete projects and transportation construction projects that are carried out, in whole or in part, using federal funds.

Today’s announcement by EPA accomplishes three goals:

*It finalizes the Chat Rule addressing beneficial uses for chat to reduce the current health and environmental hazards posed by existing surface-level chat piles. 

*Additionally, EPA is recommending criteria as guidance for the beneficial use of chat in non-transportation, non-residential concrete and cement projects.

*Third, Regions 6 and 7 are updating their current fact sheets on the use of chat to ensure their consistency with the chat rule.

As a result of years of mining in the Tri-State Mining District which covers parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri, several million tons of mining waste called chat has been stored in piles several hundred feet high throughout the site.  The chat piles are composed of various sizes of chat from fine particles to small pebbles and large rocks. When left exposed to the environment, chat particles can spread through wind, water, or air, contaminating the surrounding environment causing the site to be listed on EPA’s National Priority List as a superfund site.

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Inhofe Introduces Oil Spill Liablity Trust Fund Accountablity Bill

June 7, 2007

On Thursday, Senator Inhofe, along with Senators Larry Craig (R-ID) and John Thune (R-SD), today introduced legislation to provide accountability to expenditure of funds through the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund (OSLTF). The bill introduced today is similar to the bill the Senate EPW Committee passed out of Committee in the109th Congress by voice vote on May 23, 2006.

“My legislation is critical to bringing accountability to the OSLTF fund,” Senator Inhofe said. “Given the large amount of money in the fund, I believe there must be better accounting for how the money in the fund is allocated and spent.”

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 reinstated the five cent tax on each barrel of oil imported to or produced in this U.S.  The original tax expired in 1995 when it reached $1 billion. The current tax will sunset in 2014 or when the balance on the fund reaches $2.7 billion.   The National Pollutions Funds Center, which administers the Fund, estimates that the fund will reach $1 billion by 2014. 

The Fund consists of two components, the Emergency Fund and the Principal Fund.  The Principal Fund’s two primary expenses include claims by any person or entity that has incurred removal costs or damages from an oil spill as well as appropriations to the federal agencies, five of which receive money from the Fund and the Denali Commission and the Prince William Sound Oil Spill Recovery Institute. The Emergency Fund is authorized each year and makes $50 million available to the President to respond to spills without Congressional appropriation.  Further, the Emergency Fund is used by the federal trustees to initiate natural resource damage assessments. 

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Inhofe Opening Statement: An Examination of the Views of Religious Organizations Regarding Global Warming

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Madame Chairman, I would like to thank you for having a hearing that I personally find interesting. Before I address the topic of today’s hearing, however, I must again repeat my concern that other Committees encroach on this Committees jurisdiction while we sit idly by.

We have had hearing after hearing after hearing on global warming. But we have yet to have legislative hearings on the climate bills that are supposedly the reason for this endless parade of hearings. When we considered multi-emission legislation, we had two dozen legislative hearings examining the hard questions that need to be examined when crafting legislation. If this issue is so urgent and important, why are we delaying the beginning of that process?

In fact, we would have benefited yesterday when this Committee passed a small piece of legislation on a carbon capture demonstration project for the Capitol power plant. Although many technologies were praised as possibly being used for the plant, none of those technologies actually would qualify under the bill. Yet few Senators understood this because we never had a hearing on it before voting on it. That is simply unacceptable.

I’m not surprised that no effort has been made to seriously examine the many cap and trade proposals that have been introduced. Each of these bills would have massive economic consequences. An MIT report found that the costs to energy consumers of instituting the Sanders-Boxer bill would be an amount equal to $4,500 per family and more than $3,500 for the Lieberman-McCain bill.

Each and every one of the proposals out there has warts that, if exposed in serious discussion, would make the American public think twice about these so-called solutions. 

In the past, Tom Mullen, President of Catholic Cleveland Charities, testified on his concern about the rising costs of energy that would be caused by the imposition of a carbon cap and trade scheme. Specifically, he said that the one-fourth of children in his city living in poverty:

“will suffer further loss of basic needs as their moms are forced to make choices of whether to pay the rent or live in a shelter; pay the heating bill or see their child freeze; buy food or risk the availability of a hunger center.”

Recently, the Congressional Budget Office found that an allowance allocation scheme would increase costs to the poor – who already spend up to five times as much of their monthly outlays for energy. The report found that it would transfer wealth from the poor to the rich. A reverse Robin Hood, if you will.

These thoughts were echoed in a letter sent to me yesterday by Barrett Duke, Vice President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention – which I request be entered into the record along with a resolution passed last June by the Southern Baptist Convention on Environment and  Evangelicals. Duke wrote in his letter that that the science was unsettled and if global warming policies:

“make the delivery of electricity to [undeveloped countries] more difficult, millions of people will be condemned to more hardship, more disease, shorter lives and more poverty.”

What makes this all the more tragic is the science to buttress global warming hysteria is so shaky. That has led to increasing numbers of political leaders coming forth to publicly say so.

The latest is former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt just this week said the topic of global warming is "hysterical, overheated, and that is especially because of the media… We've had warm- and ice-ages for hundreds of thousands of years.” He added that believing we can alter global warming by any plans made at the G-8 is “idiotic.”

Schmidt’s comments follow similarly strong statements by Czech President Vaclav Klaus and former French Socialist Party Leader Claude Allegre.

The global warming alarmists are becoming increasingly desperate as more and more scientists convert from belief in a man-made catastrophe to skeptics as new science becomes available. We will be issuing a report soon detailing the hundreds of scientists who have spoken out recently with differing views from Al Gore, the United Nations, Hollywood elitists, and the media’s version of climate science.

Even putting the issue of science aside, religious leaders who have bought into the global warming hype need to consider the big picture of unintended consequences of legislative ‘solutions.’ One example of unintended consequences by climate crusaders was the recent proclamation by a UK supermarket company announcing it would usher in ‘carbon friendly’ policies and stop importing food from faraway nations. As a February 21, 2007 BBC report found:

“Kenyan farmers, whose lifelong carbon emissions are negligible compared with their counterparts in the West, are fast becoming the victims of a green campaign that could threaten their livelihoods.”

We need to consider what Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg discovered: diverting precious resources to solve a so called “climate crisis” is not in the best interests of the developing worlds poor. ‘Solutions’ to global warming may be much worse than the feared problem.”

Next, let me discuss someone who the media frequently cites in an attempt to show evangelicals are moving toward the side of global warming activism – Rev. Richard Cizik, a global warming alarmist.

A 2006 Vanity Fair Magazine article had Cizik posing for a picture where he was walking on water dressed like Jesus. Cizik shares the beliefs of liberals on the issue of population control. In a May 2006 speech to the World Bank, he told the audience, “I’d like to take on the population issue… We need to confront population control and we can—we’re not Roman Catholics after all—but it’s too hot to handle now.”

In short, Cizik does not represent the views of most evangelicals.

My final thoughts are about biblical perspectives. While I read the Bible, I do not pretend to be a scholar. But I have read what has been written by some scholars on the topic of man’s relation to creation and what stewardship means from a biblical perspective.

I would like at this time to introduce for the record the Cornwall Declaration, which I think provides a biblically based interpretation of God’s calling to us to be stewards.

We should respect creation and be wise stewards, but we must be careful not to fall into the trap of secular environmentalists who believe that man is an afterthought on this Earth who is principally a polluter.

Rather, we are made in God’s image and should use the resources God has given us. I’ll leave you with a final thought from Romans 1:25 “They gave up the truth about God for a lie, and they worshiped God’s creation instead of God who will be praised forever. Amen.”

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EPW Blog Update: Opposition to New U.S. Refinery Plants Fuels Foreign Boom

As Americans continue to grapple with high gas prices due in part to inadequate domestic refinery capacity, the media seems to finally be catching on that high prices at the pump are not the only negative consequences of current energy policies. An article from May 31, 2007 in the Monterey County Herald details how no new refineries have been built in the U.S. in three decades and only one is currently in the works.

In addition, the article explains that "oil companies are scaling back planned investments in new, expanded or modernized U.S. refineries rather than increasing them" while at the same time there is a boom underway overseas where it is "generally cheaper and easier to build refineries." The article explains that these developments mean "Americans increasingly will be filling their tanks with imported gasoline."

Meanwhile, a bill that is designed to ease America’s soaring gas prices, address true energy independence and increase refinery capacity was introduced on May 24 by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Environment & Public Works Committee.

Senator Inhofe’s Gas Price Act would improve the permitting process for the expansion of existing and construction of new domestic fuels facilities, as well as encourages ultra-clean syn-fuels and cellulosic ethanol refineries to be placed in economically distressed communities. Senator Inhofe has called on the Senate to act on his legislation and send the bill to the President.

Gasoline refining goes offshore

By KEVIN G. HALL

05/31/2007

Monterey County Herald, Monterey, Ca.

WASHINGTON — With gasoline prices averaging $3.22 for a gallon of regular nationwide over the Memorial Day weekend, traditional economic logic might suggest that this would be a good time to invest in new U.S. oil refineries and increase the supply of gasoline.

Yet no new refinery has been built in the United States in three decades, only one is in the works and oil companies are scaling back planned investments in new, expanded or modernized U.S. refineries rather than increasing them.

Overseas, however — where it's generally cheaper and easier to build refineries — a boom in construction is under way to meet the growing demand for gasoline in the United States and in big developing countries such as China and India. That means that Americans increasingly will be filling their tanks with imported gasoline.

In 2005, imported liquid fuels — mostly oil and an increasing amount of gasoline — accounted for about 60 percent of U.S. consumption, according to the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department. In a long-term assessment this month, the EIA said that figure could grow to 67 percent by 2030.

"We are outsourcing refining," said Severin Borenstein, an economist and energy expert at the University of California-Berkeley. "I think that this is primarily because of community resistance ... people don't want to live by refineries, but they still want the gasoline."

Refineries are being built in Saudi Arabia, India and China. For Saudi Arabia, the world's leading oil producer, tight refining capacity amounts to a brake on its oil sales. In 1970, global refining capacity was about 47 million barrels per day. Today it's about 83.5 million, but only 17.5 million is refined in the United States. The Paris-based International Energy Agency projected last year that the world's refining capacity will have to grow to 93 million barrels per day in 2010 and to 118 million by 2030 to meet demand.

The growth of global refining capacity will determine whether gasoline prices moderate, stay high or rise even higher.

Many energy experts think that crude oil may be more available by 2010, but more barrels of oil won't help reduce prices unless there's more refining capacity to turn it into gasoline.

Congress passed legislation in 2005 to streamline the permitting process, hoping to encourage new investment in U.S. refineries. President Bush offered military bases to house them. Yet only one new U.S. refinery is planned, in Arizona, and it's been in the works for a decade.

"There are just a vast number of barriers for a start-up oil refinery in the United States," said Ian Calkins, a spokesman for the Arizona Clean Fuels Yuma project, which has faced environmental and community hurdles and now a lawsuit over former American Indians tribal lands.

The $3.5 billion refinery, planned for 100 miles southwest of Phoenix, would process a modest 150,000 barrels of oil per day when it comes online in 2011. Still, investors who're willing to plunk billions into a project that offers only long-term returns must be found.

"It's almost a non-starter to the vast majority of investors," Calkins said.

The cost of meeting state and federal regulations also drives refinery expansion overseas. The American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for the oil industry, said its members had spent $50 billion over the past decade to comply with environmental, safety and other regulations — about the cost of building 10 big refineries.

"Environmental regulations ... play a large role in restricting the development of new refining capacity and the loss of some existing capacity," said Robert Dauffenbach, an economist and associate dean of the University of Oklahoma's Price College of Business.

President Bush's goal of a 20 percent reduction in gasoline use by 2020 also has U.S. refiners scaling back investment plans from $1.8 billion over the next five years to about $1 billion.

Link to article: http://www.montereyherald.com/portlet/article/html/fragments/print_article.jsp?articleId=6027152&siteId=570 

In Case You Missed It...Bush 1, Greens 0 (By Kimberley Strassel, The Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2007)

The Wall Street Journal

Bush 1, Greens 0

By Kimberley Strassel

Link to Column 

 

Just call him George W. Bush, star international diplomat. Don ' t snicker, don ' t spit out your coffee. Instead, read over the final document on climate change released yesterday by the Group of Eight.

Yes, it ' s a major shift in how the world will address the supposed threat of global warming. It ' s also largely the vision put forth years ago by none other than George W. Bush -- that international cowboy -- even if few European politicians will admit it.

Don ' t expect anyone to admit it. When Mr. Bush unveiled his new climate framework last week, calling on the world ' s powers to reduce greenhouse emissions, it was portrayed as a capitulation. He ' d removed the last "obstacle" to world unity on this issue, and seen the error of his ways. At this week ' s Democratic presidential debate, every candidate vowed to fix the damage Mr. Bush had done to America ' s international reputation, his Kyoto failure the obvious example.

There ' s been a capitulation on global warming, but it hasn ' t happened in the Oval Office. The Kyoto cheerleaders at the United Nations and the European Union are realizing their government-run experiment in climate control is a mess, one that ' s incidentally failed to reduce carbon emissions. They ' ve also understood that if they want the biggest players on board -- the U.S., China, India -- they need an approach that balances economic growth with feel-good environmentalism. Yesterday ' s G-8 agreement acknowledged those realities and tolled Kyoto ' s death knell. Mr. Bush, 1; sanctimonious greens, 0.

Not that the president ' s handling of the climate issue has been stellar. The science of global warming is still unsettled, yet Mr. Bush in 2002 caved and laid out a voluntary emissions-reduction program. Instead of getting credit, he ' s spent the ensuing years getting shellacked for not doing more. This has laid the groundwork for today ' s calls for mandatory curbs that would harm the economy. It ' s also given Washington an excuse to re-micromanage the energy sector. Think ethanol.

But compared to Kyoto , Mr. Bush ' s vision has been sublime. The basic Kyoto philosophy is this: Set ever lower mandatory targets, ratcheting down energy use, and by extension economic growth. The program was viewed by environmentalists and politicians as a convenient excuse for getting rid of unpopular fossil fuels, such as coal. In Kyoto-world, governments exist to create draconian rules, even if those dictates are disguised by "market" mechanisms such as cap-and-trade.

President Bush ' s approach is opposite: Allow economies to grow, along the way inspiring new technologies and new forms of energy that lower C02 emissions. Implicit is that C02-control technologies should focus on energy sources we use today, including fossil fuels. In Bush-world, the government is there to incentivize industry, coordinate with it, and set broad goals.

Take your pick. Under the vaunted Kyoto, from 2000 to 2004, Europe managed to increase its emissions by 2.3 percentage points over 1995 to 2000. Only two countries are on track to meet targets. There ' s rampant cheating, and endless stories of how select players are self-enriching off the government "market" in C02 credits. Meanwhile, in the U.S., under the president ' s oh-so-unserious plan, U.S. emissions from 2000 to 2004 were eight percentage points lower than in the prior period.

Europeans may be slow, but they aren ' t silly, and they ' ve quietly come around to some of Mr. Bush ' s views. Tony Blair has been a leader here, and give him credit for caring enough about his signature issue to evolve. He began picking up Mr. Bush ' s pro-tech themes years ago, as it became clear just how much damage a Kyoto would do to his country ' s competitiveness. By the end of 2005, he admitted at a conference in New York that Kyoto was a problem. "I would say probably I ' m changing my thinking about this in the past two or three years," he said. "The truth is, no country is going to cut its growth or consumption substantially in the light of a long-term environmental problem." He doubted there would be successor to Kyoto , which expires in 2012, and said an alternative might be "incentives" for businesses. Mr. Bush couldn ' t have said it better.

Or consider nuclear plants. President Bush has pushed hard for more nuclear, with its bountiful energy at zero C02 cost. This was long anathema to British and German politicians, whose populations are virulently anti-nuke and who balked at any official recognition of nuclear benefits. As Kyoto has ratcheted down other energy sources, nuclear has looked better. By 2005, the G-8 document out of Gleneagles contained an explicit acknowledgment that nuclear energy mattered. The EU ' s energy pact, signed earlier this year, also contained a nod to nuclear. Europe has also gone from trying to banish coal, to using tech to make it cleaner.

Then there ' s Mr. Bush ' s insistence that any "global" program must include big emitters such as China and India ( Kyoto doesn ' t). Though it received little press, the U.S. in 2005 started the Asia-Pacific Partnership, a voluntary climate pact between it and Australia, Japan, South Korea, China and India . Unlike Kyoto -- in which a government sets a national target for emissions, and then forces a few unlucky industries to make cuts -- the Partnership gets industry execs from every sector across the table from relevant government ministers, and devises practical approaches to reductions. This parallel diplomatic approach has proved far more acceptable to countries like China , and played a role in that country ' s own recently released climate plan.

Pride is pride, and the Europeans haven ' t entirely given up on Kyoto principles. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has spearheaded these climate talks, went into this G-8 meeting in Heiligendamm advocating binding reductions. Yet she admitted earlier this week that her plan was off the table, as the U.S. held firm.

Yesterday ' s declaration, far from mandatory targets, instead sets a "global goal" of halving emissions by 2050. It invites the "major emerging economies" to join in this endeavor. It acknowledges that different approaches across the world can "coordinate rather than compete." It reports that "technology is a key to mastering climate change" and lauds government "incentives." It admits that "over the next 25 years, fossil fuels will remain the world ' s dominant source of energy," and talks up the "peaceful use of nuclear energy." It even explains that any program "must be undertaken in a way that supports growth in developing, emerging and industrialized economies." Close your eyes, and you might think this was President Bush in the Rose Garden.

Will congressional Democrats prove as pragmatic? Even as Europeans have wised up, the left has been pushing for a Kyoto here. Should Democrats start to stumble on the difficulties, they could always ask Mr. Bush -- that new international climate ambassador -- for some advice.

In Case You Missed It...History 101: Price Controls Don't Work (Op-Ed by Jack Rafuse, Chicago Tribune, June 7, 2007)

History 101: Price controls don't work

By Jack Rafuse

June 7, 2007

Link to Article

For decades, the price and availability of gas has generated political heat. As a former Nixon administration official, I've been there and seen that. But what is surprising is the unwillingness of some in today's Congress to learn from our mistakes. Bills in the Senate and House today want to impose price controls on gasoline.

For those with memories shorter than mine, President Richard M. Nixon imposed wage and price controls on Aug. 15, 1971. Oil and gas were two of many commodities affected. An initial 90-day freeze turned into more than 1,000 days before the controls were dismantled. Inflation -- just above 4 percent in 1971 -- was in double digits when the controls were lifted.

Nixon kept the wage-and-price controls on oil, gasoline and petroleum products in place, as did Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. The results were disastrous. Oil exploration and domestic oil production slowed sharply. And foreign oil poured into the nation's gas tanks, filling the booming demand for price-controlled gas.

Thanks to this misguided policy, gasoline lines snaked along highways for hours during oil crises in the mid- and late-1970s. Stations ran out of gasoline and laws told consumers which days they could purchase gas. A windfall-profits tax compounded all the negative effects, and the shortages lasted until President Ronald Reagan repealed controls in 1981. The price of a gallon of gas at the pump fell by a third over five years.

With this kind of record, you might wonder what Congress is doing considering price controls and windfall profits taxes on gasoline. The Federal Trade Commission has repeatedly cautioned against reverting to this failed policy, warning: "If natural price signals are distorted by price controls, consumers ultimately might be worse off, as gasoline shortages could result." Artificial price caps ignore market forces and result in shortages during times of increased demand. Take the controls off to alleviate the shortages and prices rise higher than when controls went on.

A quarter century after the failed policy was repealed, the biggest determinant of prices at the pump is global and local supply and demand; crude oil and petroleum are internationally traded products. Then there's government. On average, state and federal taxes account for about 46 cents on the gallon. Typically, refining, marketing and transportation account for more than a quarter of the price.

The market price of oil and gas cannot be "controlled" by governments, corporations or consumers. Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Gulf region's energy infrastructure was badly damaged. At the height of the U.S. drilling season in 2005, Katrina shut down platforms that produced one-sixth of America's domestic oil supplies. Ports that are conduits for almost a third of U.S. oil imports and refineries that process almost a third of the nation's oil supply were down. As a result, gasoline prices then hit $3.05, up $1.20 from 12 months earlier.

After Katrina, while the market encouraged everyone to cut back, there were no 1970s-style gas lines or closed stations elsewhere in the nation.

Other producers -- domestic and international -- were motivated by higher prices to take up the slack. In fact, oil exploration drilling is at a 20-year high and expenditures are at an all-time high. That's how markets work.

A Federal Trade Commission study, following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, confirmed that common-sense conclusion. The FTC concluded that the market worked well -- without evidence of price gouging or illegal market manipulation -- and that price controls would have made the situation worse.

Drawing on experiences of the 1970s, the FTC concluded that price controls meant "gasoline shortages could result," leaving consumers worse off.

The history lesson for this Congress could not be clearer. Price controls could create shortages and leave our economy dangerously exposed to disruptions in supply. In the 1970s, we were the only nation on Earth to have gas lines. Why would anyone ever want to go back to that?

Jack Rafuse is a former energy adviser to the Nixon administration and currently heads Rafuse Consulting, which represents a variety of clients, including energy companies. He also is an independent consultant on energy and trade issues.