How Obama Can Regain The Initiative On Power

While it could also be hard to stomach, there is no such thing as a denying that John McCain has been leading the controversy on energy coverage. Various current polls has established a transparent pattern in favor of oil drilling and exploration and funding in nuclear power over conservation and regulation — among each liberals and conservatives. In addition, the newest report from James Carville and Stan Greenberg, two marketing campaign consultants, has revealed that Obama has been dropping ground to McCain and that he has not effectively addressed the shift in public sentiment.

Propylene EquipmentIn accordance with their results, a gorgeous 6 out of 10 voters now favor McCain’s drilling proposal. More worrying, they word, is that voters are rejecting Obama’s message of renewable fuel investment coupled with power conservation by comparatively large margins. Though disappointing, their findings usually are not, in themselves, notably surprising: With the economic system in disarray and gasoline prices persevering with their inexorable rise, it was inevitable that a majority of voters would ultimately go for the solution that they perceived would deliver them quick-time period relief at the pump — conservation and local weather change be damned. What is more disappointing is that Obama has not been urgent McCain harder on the small print of his vitality plan and that he has not been countering the outrageous claims made about offshore drilling.

A perfect place to start is with Think Progress’ excellent delusion-busting piece on the supposed advantages of offshore drilling. As the Bush administration’s personal Power Information Administration (EIA) has mentioned, entry to new coastal regions would not have a measurable impression on domestic crude oil manufacturing or costs before 2030, at the earliest. Even after 2030, the EIA states that “any influence on common wellhead costs is anticipated to be insignificant” over the lengthy-term.

The other myth conservatives have been spreading to stoke voter concern is that China is stealing “American oil” off the coast of Cuba. Regardless of being uncovered as an utter fabrication — even Cheney was forced to retract the claim — conservative legislators and pundits have been repeating it on an almost daily basis. The appropriate’s different favourite claim is that offshore drilling is environmentally benign — that not a single drop of oil was spilling throughout Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Because the Think Progress crew notes, that’s, after all, a bald lie: Main onshore and offshore spills, accounting for properly over 743,seven-hundred gallons, occurred as a result of hurricanes. In whole, there were 595 oil spills distributed all through the Gulf Coast region.

In a column for Portfolio, Howell Raines masterfully exposes lots of the glaring oversights made in media reporting over excessive gasoline costs. He quickly dispatches the oil trade’s favorite excuse, that rising oil prices merely reflect altering supply and demand, by citing the work of Don Bartlett and John Lee, two veteran investigative journalists:

“The underside line for the oil individuals is, How much can I make whereas spending the least I can get by with on refineries, artificial fuels, and for exploration and drilling on the huge, unused acreage in current oil leases?” Barlett says. He notes that Canada has become the United States’ No. 1 oil supplier by funding joint authorities-¬≠industry exploration of the tar-sand fields of Alberta. “The most chilling statistic is Exxon Mobil’s. It spent twice as much last year to purchase again inventory because it did on exploration.”

Provide and demand? Certain, but as John Lee, a enterprise journalist on the Wall Street Journal and the brand new York Occasions for many years, jogs my memory, provide and demand in oil are not simply “two pie charts–where it comes from, the place it goes, measured perhaps five years ago.” There are extra advanced causes for ache at the pump. “American gasoline prices have at all times reflected the most recent spot price, specifically what it’s important to pay to buy bulk gasoline on the open market. This is last-in pricing, quite than pricing based on stock costs.”

Now, as an example you are an oil company selling bulk gasoline, and suppose your stock incorporates some gasoline made from $140-a-barrel oil and some that was purchased for $75 a barrel. That leaves numerous room for value manipulation.

He goes on to note that oil companies largely helped create this supply crisis by closing over half of their 300 U.S. refineries over the last 25 years. And all these Republican complaints about extreme environmental regulation stifling new refinery development? Raines is having none of it:

Studies by Cambridge Vitality Research Associates, a revered, oil-pleasant consulting firm, point out that even when all environmental laws were faraway from refinery construction, few would in all probability be constructed instantly because of a 75 p.c rise in construction costs since 2000, largely pushed by the increased fuel cost of transporting constructing materials.

I could go on, but it’s really not that arduous to search out various other articles exposing the GOP’s spin on the benefits of offshore drilling. Simply rebutting these fallacious claims won’t do, however, and, on that entrance, there is way Obama could do to bolster his position.

The very first thing he should do is come clean with the American public and simply admit outright that there are not any fast panaceas for the present energy crisis. Whereas it may not be a popular message, Obama has demonstrated earlier than — in his critique of the fuel tax vacation, for instance — that he can efficiently make his case on precept. Breaking our addiction on overseas oil will require some difficult sacrifices — sacrifices that may be alleviated by strong funding in clear power applied sciences and a more equitable carbon tax system that will make firms pay to pollute. Tom Friedman made some sensible comments about this dilemma in his most recent column:

When an individual is addicted to crack cocaine, his problem just isn’t that the worth of crack goes up. His problem is what that crack addiction is doing to his whole physique. The cure is just not cheaper crack, which might solely perpetuate the addiction and all the issues it Anticorrosion Strong Cavitation Device is creating. The cure is to interrupt the addiction.

Ditto for us. Our cure isn’t cheaper gasoline, but a clean energy system. And the important thing to constructing that’s to keep the worth of gasoline and coal — our crack — greater, not decrease, so shoppers are moved to break their addiction to these soiled fuels and inventors are moved to create clean alternate options.

I understand why customers think now we have a gasoline value drawback — as a result of they’re instantly hurt by greater gas prices and the pump is the place most people contact our vitality system. They tend not to see the larger picture. But that’s the reason you might have a president: to elucidate that and lay out a response.

To affect prices within the brief-term, Obama might advocate additional use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and power oil firms to take advantage of their existing leases earlier than opening up new areas to offshore drilling. Although it might upset a big chunk of voters in the farm states, he might assist eliminating the tariff on Brazilian sugar-cane ethanol. It might not be essentially the most ideal answer (but, then once more, neither is his dubious help for corn ethanol), however it may help decrease prices and provide a cleaner, extra price-environment friendly gasoline supply.

Different no-brainers embrace boosting R&D assist for advanced battery applied sciences; offering tax credit or other financial incentives to carmakers building plug-in hybrids and zero-emission vehicles; and growing funding for public transit infrastructure around the nation. On the regulatory facet, an Obama administration should also push for increased gasoline financial system standards. Based on research carried out by the Union of Involved Scientists, rising our federal requirements to over 40 mpg by 2015 and 55 mpg by 2025 would save three occasions extra oil by 2025 than may very well be recovered by drilling in ANWR. Even one thing as simple as having drivers verify the air pressure on their tires recurrently might save 1000’s of barrels of oil a day.

The senator from Illinois ought to get just a few pointers from Al Gore and make a similar speech by which he lays out his vision for a daring energy coverage under an Obama administration — one by which dangers to the climate are mitigated with a robust embrace of renewable, carbon-free vitality sources. As he has shown with his speeches on race and nationwide security, Obama has a novel capacity to distill a fancy difficulty and make it accessible to a broad swathe of voters. It’s about time he makes use of it.

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