Reflections of a Texan

Thursday, April 27, 2006

"Big Oil" versus Congress



I have a solution for global warming, stop the hot air coming out of Congress. Gas prices are the latest "golden ticket" for politicians. There have been 30+ investigations by Congress, since the mid-70s, on price gouging and inflated oil prices. Every investigation turned up nothing. Instead of wasting their time and our money looking for the source of the problem, why don't they just look in the mirror. For the last three decades, Congress has failed the American people by not passing valuable energy legislation. As a nation, we are like the Israelites wandering in the desert for forty years, when it comes to an energy policy. Even Brazil took a stand and is now free of its dependence on foreign oil. How? In the 1970s they made the decision to move to an alternative fuel source based on, get this, sugar cane. Why sugar cane, because Brazil is the world's largest producer of sugar cane. If they can do it, why can't we.

Now, before you start blaming "Big Oil" and their lobbyist, at one time, for nearly a decade, oil was less than $25.00 a barrel. So, Congress took the easy way out and said, oil's cheap, we don't need to spend the money to change. Oil was cheap, because demand was low. But guess what, China and India were both growing at exponential rates. As China and India continued growing, so did demand. However, no one wanted to rock the boat, because oil was still $30.00 - $35.00 a barrel and gas was still cheap. So, what did we do, we created tougher laws and increased cost, so that oil exploration and refining in the United States became stagnant. I cannot tell you how many oil wells in West Texas quit pumping, not because they were dry, but because it cost more to get it out of the ground than it was worth.

As the demand for oil continued to rise and the refining capacity stayed the same, prices naturally began going up. No one in Washington did anything to begin the process of finding an alternative. The first Black and Green President, Bill Clinton, did nothing, Congress did nothing, "Big Oil" did nothing. Why, when compared to other goods adjusted for the cost of inflation, oil was still cheap. So, here we are today. A barrel of oil at $70.00+, gasoline hovering around $3.00 a gallon and Congress looking for someone to blame.

Had Congress taken a stand in the 1970s, like Brazil, we would be oil independent today. American farmers can grow enough corn and grain to feed the entire world many times over every year. And that does not include the farmers the government pays not to grow products. If alternative fuels based on corn, soy bean or other grains are the wave of the future, why didn't we start 30+ years ago. I realize that it takes quite a bit more corn to produce the same amount of gasoline as one barrel of oil, but corn doesn't require millions of dollars to pump out of the ground and it grows back every year. I am not claiming to have the solution to end all solutions, I don't even know if ethanol is a truly viable fuel source, but I do know, that if we had started 30+ years ago, we would know by now.

I just thought of another alternative fuel source, that is overly abundant and manufactured constantly. Instead of stopping the hot air in Washington, let's figure out how to make it into fuel.

-- JB

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