This week in my philosphy class, I had to “Choose a recent (±last 2 weeks) event, story, topic, etc. that interests you and write an argument as a letter to the editor. Try to compose an argument and not merely state an opinion or express an emotion.” I figured anything by Erin Neff would be a good article to argue against and found one from June 8 in which she tries to explain how high gas prices will help Democrats win in November. She also mistated why Republicans were against bills like Lieberman-Warner. Here is my response, which I have also sent as a letter to the Editor.
Erin Neff wrote in her June 8, 2008, column in the Las Vegas Review-Journal “Prices at the pump might drive upcoming election” that how high gas prices may cause voters to turn to Democrats in the fall. Full of bias, Ms. Neff wrote “This is the perfect climate to sow political fear. And that’s precisely what Republican-led efforts to stall a climate change bill in Congress have in mind. In the long run, the best solution is to reduce our dependency on $135-a-barrel-and-climbing foreign oil. If the goals of the climate bill are met, we will have more feasible options, better performing vehicles and, in theory, reduced demand for foreign oil. But all you hear from the Republican attack machine is that the legislation would raise gas prices. Doing nothing for the environment certainly hasn’t reduced prices. It would seem it’s high time to try something else.” Ms. Neff, in her “fair and balanced way” didn’t bother to talk about why Republicans are against the Lieberman-Warner America’s Climate Security Act (Senate Bill 2191), except that the “Republican attack machine” is telling people that it will cause prices to go up. I will explain how prices will go up, and why, as well as explain why we shouldn’t be passing huge tax programs based on incomplete science, and finally, why the environmental policy of the last 30 years have caused prices to go up so much.
According to the text of Lieberman-Warner, as found at the Library of Congress website (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c110:1:./temp/~c1102ksHzO:e1002:), this bill would setup Climate Change Credit Corporation, a Government sponsored carbon offset credit program, as well as setup the Federal Greenhouse Gas Registry. This Corporation would create guidelines of “emission allowances” that each “covered facility” would be allowed to pollute. If a company is polluting too much, what happens? They must purchase “Offset Allowances” at whatever price the Climate Change Credit Corporation chooses to sell these credits at. Any business that fails to comply with cutting the CO2 emissions and does not purchase these Offset Allowances at whatever price the Climate Change Credit Corporation wants to charge will be fined $25,000.00 per day per violation. All of these activities will cause an increase in costs. How so? Since Ms. Neff didn’t want to tell you, I’ll quote Ben Lieberman, a Senior Policy Analyst for Energy and Environment in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. “Simply put, LW works like a massive energy tax. By restricting carbon dioxide emissions from coal, oil, and natural gas–with a freeze at 2005 levels beginning in 2012, to a 70 percent reduction in 2050–the bill forces down supply and thus boosts the price of energy. In fact, if energy prices did not go up, then the targets in the bill would not be met. As energy is the economy’s lifeblood, and 85 percent of it comes from these fossil fuels, the impact will be substantial. Cumulative gross domestic product (GDP) losses could reach $4.8 trillion by 2030, according to an analysis conducted by the Heritage Foundation. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Environmental Protection Agency, Charles River Associates, and the National Association of Manufacturers have all conducted studies predicting significant economic burdens on consumers should the bill be enacted.” http://www.heritage.org/research/energyandenvironment/wm1940.cfm
Further, the Lieberman-Warner bill declares that “unchecked global warming poses a significant threat”. Ms. Neff said essentially the same thing in her article. We hear that there is a “consensus of scientists” who believes that human actives are causing climate change/global warming. Since when do we do science by “consensus”? Was I not paying attention in science class when we were going over the scientific method? I do not remember consensus as one of the steps. In the words of Michael Crichton to the National Press Club in January 2005 “Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science, consensus is irrelevant.” (http://www.michaelcrichton.com/speech-ourenvironmentalfuture.html) Further, where are we getting this notion that there is a consensus? As recently has May 30 of this year, 31,000 scientists have signed a petition denying that man is responsible for global warming (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/2053842/Scientists-sign-petition-denying-man-made-global-warming.html). Climatologist Roy Spencer said in May 2007 “Politicians and some of the scientists like to say that there’s a consensus now on global warming or the science has been settled, but you have to ask them, what is there a consensus on? Because it really makes a difference. … The only consensus I`m aware of is that it’s warmed in the last century. They completely ignore the fact that there’s this thing called the Oregon petition that was signed by 19,000 professionals and scientists who don’t agree with the idea that we are causing climate change.” I could go on and one, but will let the points I make suffice. It is interesting also to note, however that the average temperature of the earth has been going down every year since 1998. It is also interesting to note that, according to NASA, the hottest year on record was 1934!
The last point that I’d like to make is the main reason, in my opinion, that gas prices are so high now is because of the silly environmental policies of the last 30-years. In 1982, the United States had 301 operable refineries. Today, we have only 149 refineries. There has not been a new refinery built in the United States since 1976. (http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/does_the_us_lack_sufficient_oil_refining.html). According to James Bartis at the RAND Corporation “The largest known oil shale deposits in the world are in the Green River Formation, which covers portions of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Estimates of the oil resource in place within the Green River Formation range from 1.5 to 1.8 trillion barrels. … [which] is more than triple the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. Present U.S. demand for petroleum products is about 20 million barrels per day. If oil shale could be used to meet a quarter of that demand, 800 billion barrels of recoverable resources would last for more than 400 years.” (http://rand.org/pubs/monographs/2005/RAND_MG414.pdf). Yet current US law makes it very difficult for new refineries to be built, for shale oil extraction and for drilling in places like ANWR and offshore. Every year, Republicans in the US House of Representatives and in the US Senate try to lift the ban on drilling in ANWR and/or offshore and/or to extract oil shale. Every year, Environmental lobbyists manage to get enough Senators and Representatives to kill these bills. As a general rule, these Senators and Representatives are Democrats. And, an interesting note on gas prices. The average profit the oil companies receive for a gallon of gas is about 8 cents. The average tax the government collects on a gallon of gas? About 40 cents, of which about 18 cents goes to the Federal government and about 22 cents to the State government.
If we were to allow the oil companies to build new refineries, if we allow them to drill for oil, prices will go down. If we start adding new regulations and fees, prices will go up. Its pretty simple. Yet some want to create new regulations and add new fees based on a non-proven scientific theory. And finally, we can see that environmental policies supported by Democrats in Congress have caused prices to go up. Yet, Ms. Neff thinks that high gas prices will cause people to vote for Democrats. As Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result. We vote in Democrats who will continue to support wacko environmental policies and gas prices will continue to go up.
Michael H. Cox
North Las Vegas, Nevada.