Washington, DC, March 6, 2001 – Today in a press conference at the headquarters of the Department of Energy, Senator Bob Smith (R-NH), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), and Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham announced the creation of a Northeast Home Oil Heating Reserve to shield homeowners from expected price increases in oil supplies. The announcement is puzzling given the apparent support in the Bush administration and by Senators Smith and Collins for increased regulation of fossil fuels. It hardly seems rational to demonize the nation’s largest source of energy while simultaneously using tax dollars to subsidize its purchase by millions of homeowners.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
As last summer’s high gas prices and the continuing electricity debacle in California demonstrate, the nation is facing an energy crisis. What the well-intentioned Senators and Secretary seem to be ignoring, however, is that it emerging hostility to affordable and abundant energy that is feeding the problem. Energy regulations, restrictions, and international agreements that make producing energy in this country more difficult cost consumers money. This winter, it has cost some families so much money that they have had to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families.
While using public funds to set aside a given amount of home heating oil may bring heating costs down for some in the Northeast, the problem of supplying enough energy – whether it be heating oil, electricity, gasoline, or natural gas – will remain unless the administration and the Congress move forward in deregulating utilities, reducing regulatory bottlenecks in supply systems, and allowing increased energy exploration and production. President Bush spoke often during the presidential campaign about unleashing the huge potential for domestic energy production – both by opening up new frontiers for exploration and repealing cumbersome regulations that inhibit the ability of utilities to provide inexpensive power the country.
A vibrant energy sector is one of the greatest engines of economic prosperity. Schemes currently being discussed among policy makers, such as regulating carbon dioxide as pollutant or endorsing the disastrous and scientifically dubious Kyoto Protocol would put us into a tailspin. Rather than a politically convenient subsidy for the few, a wiser course would be increased access to affordable energy for all.
CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact Richard Morrison, associate director of media relations, at [email protected] or 202-331-1010, ext. 266.