Tuesday :: Apr 25, 2006

If The Problem Is Refining Capacity, Then Why Mess With The SPR?

by Steve

Image courtesy of MSNBC.com

(W)e will not play politics with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. That Petroleum Reserve is in place in case of major disruptions of energy supplies to the United States. The idea of emptying the Strategic Petroleum Reserve plays -- would put America in a dangerous position in the war on terror. We're at war. We face a tough and determined enemy on all fronts. And we must not put ourselves in a worse position in this war. And playing politics with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would do just that.
--Bush, May 19, 2004

President Bush, at the urging of the petrified GOP leadership in the House and Senate, will ask the Alberto “See No Evil” Gonzales Justice Department and the toothless Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether or not Big Oil, which has bankrolled Bush/Cheney, is engaged in price gouging. Yet it was the GOP that killed a 2005 Democratic effort to make price gouging a federal crime, and Bush's FTC has looked the other way repeatedly in cases like this.

Democrats should have a simple message in response:

“Do you really expect Bush/Cheney and the GOP Congress to do anything of substance against Big Oil?”

And then Democrats should detail how much money Big Oil has given to the GOP and Bush/Cheney these last six years. It would also help to note that Bush is using this to relax clean air additive requirements once again on Big Oil.

Bush has also stopped further deposits into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which is odd since he said previously he would never interfere in the markets by using the SPR as a weapon to manipulate domestic supply, unless in response to a natural disaster. Besides, why would manipulating domestic supply through this action have an impact if the real problem according to Big Oil is a lack of refining capacity, and if OPEC says that all demand is currently being met?

Unless of course Big Oil is flat-out lying when they blame environmental regulations and the lack of refining capacity for supply shortages.

Bush actually encouraged the state attorneys general to get involved and monitor prices in their states, which is a recipe for unintended consequences. And what is the initial reaction to Bush's spin this morning? His announcement is meaningless, because the feds apparently have no laws on the books to prevent price gouging. Furthermore, the refining capacity issue is already viewed by some as a red herring.

Which means that these measures are the typical Bush Administration smoke and mirrors.

Update: As Ann noted in the comments section, the Democrats were ready to hit the ground running in response to Bush's nonsubstantive proposals today. New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez is proposing a 60-day holiday from the federal gasoline tax, which will save at least 18 cents per gallon and taxpayers $100 million. Menendez would pay for this by also cancelling $6 billion in tax subsidies given to Big Oil in the last energy bill. And other senators are now talking about giving the federal government authority to go after price gouging.

Folks, this is an election-year political winner for the Democrats.

Hat tip to Raw Story

Steve :: 7:40 AM :: Comments (23) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!