By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Energy: President Bush let the Democrat-led Congress have it with both barrels Tuesday, lambasting lawmakers for fiddling while the energy crisis burns. It was a well-deserved takedown of do-nothing lawmakers.
IBD Series: Breaking The Back Of High Oil
We've said it before, but we'll say it again: This Congress is possibly the most irresponsible in modern history. This is especially true when it comes to America's dysfunctional energy policy.
The media won't call either the House or the Senate on its failures, for one very obvious reason: They mostly share an ideology with the Democrats that keeps them from understanding how free markets and supply and demand really work. Sad, but true.
So we were happy to hear the president do the job, calling out Congress for its inaction and ignorance in his wide-ranging press conference Tuesday.
"Many Americans are understandably anxious about issues affecting their pocketbook, from gas and food prices to mortgage and tuition bills," Bush said. "They're looking to their elected leaders in Congress for action. Unfortunately, on many of these issues, all they're getting is delay."
Best of all, Bush didn't let the issue sit with just generalities. He reeled off a bill of particulars of congressional energy inaction, including:
• Failing to allow drilling in ANWR. We have, as Bush noted, estimated capacity of a million barrels of oil a day from this source alone — enough for 27 million gallons of gas and diesel. But Congress won't touch it, fearful of the clout of the environmental lobby. As a result, you pay at the pump so your representative can raise campaign cash.
• Refusing to build new refineries. The U.S. hasn't built one since 1976, yet sanctions at least 15 unique "boutique" fuel blends around the nation. So even the slightest problem at a refinery causes enormous supply problems and price spikes. Congress has done nothing about this.
• Turning its back on nuclear power. It's safe and, with advances in nuclear reprocessing technology, waste problems have been minimized. Still, we have just 104 nuclear plants — the same as a decade ago — producing just 19% of our total energy. (Many European nations produce 40% or more of their power with nuclear.) Granted, nuclear power plants are expensive — about $3 billion each. But they produce energy at $1.72/kilowatt-hour vs. $2.37 for coal and $6.35 for natural gas.
• Raising taxes on energy producers. This is where a basic understanding of economics would help: Higher taxes and needless regulation lead to less production of a commodity. So by proposing "windfall" and other taxes on energy companies plus tough new rules, Congress makes our energy situation worse.
These are just a few of Congress' sins of omission — all while India, China, Eastern Europe and the Middle East add more than a million barrels of new demand each and every year. New Energy Department forecasts see world oil demand growing 40% by 2030, including a 28% increase in the U.S.
Americans who are worried about the direction of their country, including runaway energy and food prices, should keep in mind the upcoming election isn't just about choosing a new president. We'll also pick a new Congress.
The current Congress, led on the House side by a speaker who promised a "common sense plan" to cut energy prices two years ago, has shown itself to be incompetent and irresponsible. It doesn't deserve re-election.