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But nobody walks in L.A.!

Right Here, Right Now

Posted: June 9, 2008 6:07 a.m.
Updated: August 10, 2008 5:03 a.m.
 
So maybe you've heard that gas prices are pretty high these days. I guess I was in a state of denial until last Sunday, when I went to my favorite gas station to fill the family van. While diligently cleaning the windshield and checking the tires, I almost didn't notice the pump meter passing $50, then $60, then $70 for my fill-up! I was in complete amazement when the pump finally clicked off at $76.13.

After staring in disbelief at my receipt, doing the math in my head and briefly swearing off driving in favor of walking (Who was I kidding, really, nobody walks in L.A.), I decided that I was going to explain to my loyal Signal editorial readers why gas is now a miserable $4.39 gallon. After reading several mind-numbing explanations of how crude oil is refined into our wonderful 89-octane lifeblood, how oil companies base the cost per gallon on a ridiculously overcomplicated mathematical calculation, and how the local, state and federal governments are always finding new ways to add taxes and fees to further increase our pump-induced nausea, I decided against boring you with the same factoids and instead opted to go a different route: Blame the Democrats!

I have prepared myself to draw the ire of the liberal bloggers of Santa Clarita; I've embraced the fact that the environmentalists will call me "hypocritical," since I drive a car that (on a good day) gets
18 miles to the gallon; and I anticipate that somehow the argument will come back to blaming attorneys (of which I am one) for rising gas prices.

However, with the facts on my side, I'm ready to face the barrage of attacks!

My top three reasons why Democrats are to blame for high gas prices:

Reason No. 3: Jimmy Carter - a Democrat. For all of his good intentions, Carter's shot at deregulation, and removing the price controls implemented during the Nixon administration, did not prove to be successful over the long-haul.

Other political and economic factors allowed oil prices to remain (relatively) low in the 1980s and for much of the 1990s, but Carter laid the foundation for the problems we are seeing now, by taking the artificial price controls that worked well in 1973 out of play.

Reason No. 2: House Democrats. Historically, 86 percent of House Democrats have voted against increasing the production of American-made oil and gas, while 91 percent of their Republican brethren were in favor of such legislation. This statistic is based upon voting on ANWR drilling (see below), coal-to-liquid alternative fuel production, oil shale exploration and increasing capacity limits on refinery operations.

And the No. 1 reason why gas prices are so extraordinarily high ... drum roll, please) ... Bill Clinton - another Democrat.

In 1995, President Clinton vetoed the budget proposed by Congress that included a plan that would have allowed the United States to drill into federal lands on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge ("ANWR") in order to extract a portion of the eight billion to 16 billion barrels of crude oil contained under the arctic tundra.

Those reserves would have been sufficient to sustain U.S. consumption, without any contribution from outside oil, for a period of up to 20 years!

Please don't mistake my position as naïve, I fully understand the counter-argument from environmentalists that non-renewable energy sources shouldn't be completely exhausted; otherwise, we've simply delayed the inevitable, and our grandchildren will suffer for our short-sighted mistakes.

But good grief, basic economic theory provides that as supply increases, demand will decrease, driving down prices, making the product more affordable.

If we were to open up the ANWR reserves by even a fraction of their potential, our demand for oil from abroad would significantly decrease, driving down the cost of foreign oil.

While I consider myself a proponent of finding alternative fuel sources and fancy myself a believer that our capitalist market will drive corporations to develop the necessary technologies to reduce our dependence on oil all together, we cannot ignore the fact that the United States is sitting on a perfect way to stop the bleeding in the short-term.

If we don't, I may have to seriously reconsider walking, and nobody walks in L.A.

Brian Keogle is a Santa Clarita Valley resident. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Right Here, Right Now" runs Mondays in The Signal and rotates among local Republicans.

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