Washington, D.C., April 25, 2006—The Competitive Enterprise Institute is disappointed that President Bush has decided to make cheap political points about high gas prices instead of promoting policies that will lead to more domestic oil production and lower prices. The following is a statement from Myron Ebell, director of energy policy at CEI.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
“President Bush seems desperate to find someone to blame for continuing high demand for gasoline, which is the result of high economic growth and continuing supply problems. He should take credit for his policies that have contributed to strong economic growth and put the blame for high gas prices where it belongs. He should be traveling across the country blaming the obstructionist minority in Congress that continues to block legislation that would increase domestic energy production. And the president should be building public support for pro-energy, pro-consumer policies.
“Many of the Senators and Congressmen who are complaining the loudest about high gas prices and oil company profits have voted again and again over many years for policies designed to constrict energy supplies and thereby raise energy prices. Congress should vote now for legislation that will provide long-term solutions to America's energy supply needs. These solutions include:
- Opening a small portion in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas production. If there is as much oil as the U.S. Geological Survey's mean estimate shows, this would increase America's proven domestic oil reserves by approximately 50 percent. There is majority support in both the House and Senate for opening ANWR, but an obstructionist minority blocked enactment last year. The Senate again voted 51 to 49 earlier this year to open ANWR. The House leadership should now show some leadership and push ANWR to enactment;
- Opening the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf of Mexico offshore areas to oil and natural gas production. America's deep sea reserves are potentially enormous, but except for the western Gulf of Mexico (which is the U. S.'s largest producing oil field today) have been put off limits by the federal government. Environmental concerns about deep sea production are unwarranted. The last significant offshore oil spill in the U. S. was in 1969. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last summer destroyed many oil rigs and platforms in the Gulf, but did not cause any significant oil spills. Congress should enact legislation this year to open offshore areas currently under moratorium and to share federal royalties 50-50 with the States involved;
- Repealing the new ethanol mandate included in the energy bill passed last year. The new mandate requires refiners to double their 2005 use of ethanol to 7.5 billion gallons per year by 2012. Higher demand is causing ethanol prices to soar. The mandate will require 22 percent of the U.S. corn crop to provide 4 percent of gasoline supplies;
- Repealing the current 54 cents a gallon tariff on imported ethanol. Domestic ethanol producers already receive 51 cents per gallon in federal subsidies. They don’t need any more protection from foreign competition.
“It's time for people to demand that their Senators and Congressmen start voting in favor of lower gas prices instead of just talking about them. And President Bush should show true leadership instead of looking for scapegoats,” Ebell concluded.