Home Energy and Environment Bob McDonnell Advocates High Gasoline Prices and U.S. Oil Addiction Forever

Bob McDonnell Advocates High Gasoline Prices and U.S. Oil Addiction Forever


I don’t expect genius – or even intelligence – out of the George Allens and Bob McDonnells of the world on any subject, least of all when it comes to energy. Today, once again, McDonnell demonstrates why I say that, with a statement so wrong, so backwards, and so…just plain stupid, it’s hard to know where to start. In sum, though, it’s fair to say that the energy policies McDonnell’s advocating, combined with the ones he opposes, would do two things: 1) guarantee high gasoline prices, essentially forever; and 2) also guarantee that America remains addicted to foreign oil, also essentially forever. Let’s parse McDonnell’s statement to see why this is the case.

1. McDonnell claims that he’s “concerned that the Obama Administration’s ongoing lack of a comprehensive energy policy leaves us vulnerable to continued future energy price spikes and uncertainty in this critical area.” In fact, if Senate Republicans – and a few “fossil fool” Senate Democrats, sadly – had not blocked the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, we’d have a “comprehensive energy policy” right now, one that would have jump started clean energy, slashed carbon emissions 85% by 2050, cut U.S. oil imports by $20 billion a year, and generally put our country on a glide path off of fossil fuels (and high gasoline prices) for good. Of course, the Big Oil-owned-and-operated Republicans wouldn’t go along with that, so here we are, still stuck with no comprehensive, national energy policy, hooked on oil, and hostage to a variety of factors outside our control (e.g., rising demand for oil in China and elsewhere, which is mostly what’s been driving oil prices higher; Middle East unrest; etc.). Thanks guys!

1a. Just as a followup to point #1, it’s important to note that the United States has never had a serious national energy policy. Ever. In its history. Unless you want to count “we have a birth right to cheap energy forever, party on” as a  policy! Yes, this is a bipartisan failure dating back decades, and one that continues to this day. For Bob McDonnell to basically blame Democrats, specifically President Obama, for the current increase in gasoline prices, is utterly ahistorical, wildly dishonest, and just plain laughable. Of course, that’s never stopped McDonnell on any other issue, so why start now?

2. McDonnell says, “When the cost of gas and oil go up…” Is he talking about natural gas or “gasoline” here? Does he even know the difference? It’s hard to say, but if he’s talking about the former, the price of natural gas is now at record lows. If he’s talking about gasoline, prices remain significantly below the high points they reached in June/July 2008, when oil men George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were in the White House.

3. McDonnell says, “The Obama Administration rejected the Keystone Pipeline addition, which would have resulted in thousands of high paying new American jobs…and brought vast new, secure supplies of oil into the country.” Those are outright lies. According to a study by Cornell, in fact, “KXL will not be a major source of US jobs, nor will it play any substantial role at all in putting Americans back to work.” Even worse, “KXL will divert Tar Sands oil now supplying Midwest refineries, so it can be sold at higher prices to the Gulf Coast and export markets. As a result, consumers in the Midwest could be paying 10 to 20 cents more per gallon for gasoline and diesel fuel. These additional costs (estimated to total $2-4 billion) will suppress other spending and will therefore cost jobs.” Great, huh? All for what, to enrich a foreign oil company and send oil to China? Wow, great energy strategy, Bob!

4. McDonnell claims: “At the same time, the Administration continues to leave valuable and much needed offshore domestic oil and gas deposits off limits to responsible exploration and production.” That’s another outright lie. In fact,  U.S. oil production is sharply higher since President Obama took office. After hitting a low point of just 3.9 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in September 2008, U.S. crude oil production hit 5.8 million bbl/d in November 2011 and continues to rise. That’s not because the Obama administration has been hostile to oil production in this country, that’s for sure. As usual, Republicans just make s*** up, put out the Big Lie, and cynically hope that people won’t call them on it or know any better. Well, for what it’s worth, we just did.

5. Finally, McDonnell refers to the “American Energy Initiative’ (HR 3408) which was passed on the House floor last week.” In fact, this “Initiative” is basically the “drill baby drill” bill, to forget about the horrendous BP oil disaster, to gut environmental protections, all to try and “drill our way out of it” – the one thing every energy expert knows for sure will NOT work.

6. So what will work to slash our expenditures on gasoline? Very simple: energy efficiency; by far the biggest “bang for the buck”/”lowest hanging fruit,” but apparently something Republicans can’t seem to comprehend. It’s really not that hard if you try, though: these statistics from EIA tell the story very clearly. For instance, in 1973, the U.S. consumed nearly 12,000 Btu of oil and natural gas to produce a dollar of GDP; in 2010, that was down to 4,600 Btu per dollar of GDP, meaning that our GDP nearly tripled, while oil and natural gas consumption barely budged. Fortunately, there’s a huge amount more energy inefficiency to squeeze out of the system (in our vehicles, homes, offices, power plants, etc.), meaning that we can have the same standard of living (or better) and use a LOT less oil and natural gas. That means less dependence on foreign oil, a lot lower CO2 emissions, and sharply reduced expenditures on gasoline, heating oil, etc. Note that Bob McDonnell doesn’t mention any of this (or that solar prices are dropping precipitously)? Perhaps this might help explain that omission? Hmmmm.

The bottom line is this: if we follow the policies advocated by Bob McDonnell, George Allen, Sarah Palin, Eric Can’tor, etc., we guarantee our country several bad things: 1) continued, never-ending addiction to oil (mostly foreign); 2) numerous adverse national security implications, such as effectively funding Iran’s nuclear program; 3) spewing out of enormous quantities of pollutants and destruction of our environment; and 4) continued high gasoline prices, as we fail to transition rapidly to clean energy, including energy efficiency, and stay stuck on 19th and early 20th century energy sources. Dumb, dumber, dumberest; that’s Bob McDonnell’s energy policy for ya.

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