DAILY OKLAHOMAN: LACKING ENERGY: DEMOCRATS' BILL DOESN'T ADDRESS NEEDS (Editorial, June 19, 2007)
June 19, 2007
THE DAILY OKLAHOMAN
LACKING ENERGY: DEMOCRATS' BILL DOESN'T ADDRESS NEEDS
Jun. 19--SENATE Democrats' first swing at national energy policy might be boiled down to a couple of broad statements: Alternative fuels are good, big business is bad and Americans stung by higher energy costs shouldn't expect help any time soon.
With the legislation's direct cost to government (read: taxpayers) at $140 billion to $205 billion over 15 years, you'd think there'd be something in it for average folk. Hardly. Democrats are putting their stock in subsidies, tax preferences and other incentives for futuristic fuels -- mandating increased use of ethanol, for example, and requiring utilities to use more wind, solar and other renewable sources in the future.
Don't get us started on ethanol, a fuel that has yet to demonstrate any real-market viability without heavy government subsidies. Renewables are fine as they go, too. Yet Democrats' lack of balance with respect to production and supply should concern every American who fills a gas tank.
Sen. Jim Inhofe's amendment to give states the option of streamlining the permitting process for building greater refining capacity was defeated on a party-line vote after Democrats complained it was a giveaway to the oil companies. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California suggested Big Oil isn't building new refineries because it makes it easier to manipulate fuel prices. Another production-side amendment, to let Virginia lift a 25-year freeze on offshore drilling, was defeated by Democrats talking of environmental concerns as if it were 1977, not 2007.
The bill would make price gouging a federal crime -- a solution in search of a real-world problem. Meanwhile, Democrats are split on increasing car fuel efficiency standards, with Michigan's senators trying to stave off standards that would damage the auto industry.
Stay tuned as the legislation proceeds. But unless you're into windmills, solar panels or corn there's not much most Americans can look forward to.