There is a most remarkable story in this morning’s New York Times about gasoline prices. In the report, John Boehner and Republicans in Congress are gearing up for a political battle over gasoline prices. It is the worst and most irresponsible politicizing of energy issues ever seen from a political party caught on the edge of hysteria:
In a closed-door meeting last week, Speaker John A. Boehner instructed fellow Republicans to embrace the gas-pump anger they find among their constituents when they return to their districts for the Presidents’ Day recess.
“This debate is a debate we want to have,” Mr. Boehner told his conference on Wednesday, according to a Republican aide who was present. “It was reported this week that we’ll soon see $4-a-gallon gas prices. Maybe higher. Certainly, this summer will see the highest gas prices in years. Your constituents saw those reports, and they’ll be talking about it.”
For a political party full of climate change deniers, Peak Oil deniers, and environmental polluters, I find their hypocrisy staggering. Their desire and willingness to make this a political issue by blaming our present administration for rising oil prices, is at best adolescent, and at worst, willingly ignorant. They know very well that our country represents only 5% of the world’s population, and yet, arrogantly uses over 30% of the planet’s energy resources. Republicans ignore the fact that gasoline, even under $5.00 a gallon, is relatively cheap. Moreover, they ignore the fact that this planet’s cheap light sweet crude oil is all but gone, leaving only expensively extracted heavy crude oil, and environmentally destructive oil sands and oil shale.
Last year I wrote about huge, natural gas burning water boilers, that are sitting on top of the Wafra Oil Field in the middle of the desert, on the border between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. These boilers are used to create steam that will be sent down into the desert sands to liquify remaining heavy crude oil now that all the sweet, and easily extracted light crude is gone. The Republican Party is in deep denial about how we got to this point of rising gasoline prices, over which neither they nor our present administration has absolutely no control.
When confronted with a chance to change our energy habits following the 1973 oil embargo, Reagan and every Republican alive denied there was any oil or energy supply or pollution problem at all. Reagan took solar panels off the White House, deregulated as much of our economy as possible, and encouraged our country’s auto manufacturers to go out and build a whole new generation of gas-guzzling SUVs. He also increased highway spending to build new freeways which in turn facilitated the cancer of suburban sprawl. Precious and now scarce farmland was littered with large shopping malls, along with irresponsibly large parking lots. Along the new feeder roads, ugly strip commercial retail centers were built, squandering yet more land that we will need to grow future food for our country. But most importantly and sadly, suburban residential sprawl spread out across this land as far as the eye could see.
And now, like children who have irresponsibly eaten all their candy and yet want more, they will like children do, lie down in the supermarket aisle and throw a political tantrum in blaming others for rising gas prices. What immature, foolish and willfully ignorant people they have become. Their current anger is only one symptom that the current Republican Party has lost all contact with reality when it comes to energy and the environment. But more to the point, with an improving U.S. economy and job market, Republicans are hysterically scraping the bottom of their political barrel to find something, anything, to use in an effort to win back the presidency.
It isn’t going to work! If anything, gas prices are, and have been, too low, and should be raised in order to curtail our careless use of an increasingly scarce energy source.
Here in Utah, entitled drivers squander gasoline as if there were no tomorrow. They current burn up their cheap gasoline to drive up and down I-15 all along the Wasatch Front from Nephi in the south, to Logan in the north. Not only do they mindlessly squander gasoline, but contribute to some of the most toxic air in the nation. All while those they have elected to represent our state in Congress, do nothing about the real problem, and spend time and money to make it worse.
Highlighting staggering Republican ignorance about oil prices, rising gasoline prices and energy use, the story continues from the clown car of Republican presidential primary candidates:
“They want higher energy prices. They want to push their radical agenda on the public,” Rick Santorum said at a campaign event last week, accusing Democrats of pushing alternatives to oil. “We need a president who is on the side of affordable energy.”
Newt Gingrich wrote on Twitter on Friday that “gasoline prices are unacceptable. We can do better!” He urged his supporters to sign a petition on his Web site calling for a return to $2.50 per gallon gas. “Drill here. Drill now. Pay less,” the petition says.
It is time for those in the Republican Party to sit down and shut up until they can demonstrate sufficient maturity to have a voice in any national conversation about energy.