In the energy realm, as in every other, Democrats are all about instant gratification. They’ll disparage the idea of opening federal lands to domestic drilling because “it would take years for the new oil to come online” (never mind that if we’d opened them years ago, the oil would already be available!), but they’ll champion the depletion of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve because tapping it might drive gas prices down quickly enough to ensure reelection.
Three House Democrats, Reps. Ed Markey, Peter Welch and Rosa DeLauro, sent a letter to the president recently calling for an “aggressive strategy” for releasing oil from the reserve and pointing to past actions that helped drive down prices.
“As we approach the summer driving season, we must carefully consider all immediate options in order to prevent a runaway increase in prices,” they wrote. …
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is the country’s supply of excess oil and was created to deal with spikes in the cost of oil because of natural disasters, war or terrorist attacks.
Obama tapped the SPR, as it’s known, last June, releasing 30 million barrels of oil to compensate for supply disruptions in Libya. Democrats applauded the move but Republicans viewed it as a political stunt. …
Top Republicans had argued that the threshold for using the reserve should be an emergency, not for gas price reductions.
Remarkably, though, House Democratic whip Steny Hoyer is actually speaking some sense on this subject:
The number two House Democrat broke Monday with some of his fellow Democratic colleagues, and said he does not believe releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is appropriate now and it wouldn’t help lower gas prices. …
But House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, said he believes the SPR should be used in “emergency times when supply is being disrupted,” and added, “there are no lines at the gas tanks anywhere in the country as far as I know.”
Hoyer maintained there are other reasons for higher gas prices. “My own view that speculation and fear of what might happen is more a cause than the supply issue.”
Still, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the president decides to again tap the SPR. He did it once. What would stop him from doing it again? High gas prices are the wages of the president’s energy policies up to this point and he’ll do anything to avoid the electoral consequences of his policies. While his press secretary chatters about increased domestic energy production and eventual energy independence, the president has to know it’s too late; he can do very little to drive gas prices down now. Whatever he can do, he will, no matter how stupid it is for the long-range energy outlook of the country.
If the president wanted to avoid high gas prices down the home stretch to his reelection, then he should have thought about that before now. Championing sound energy policy requires a long-range perspective. It requires an integrity that refuses to engage in crony capitalism and a common sense approach that reduces the regulatory burden on all companies to unleash American energy. It might require offending an environmentalist or two. Incidentally, it also requires an appreciation for an industrialized society and an acceptance of fossil fuels as what currently drive industrialized society. The president has none of that. He has an energy ideology that seeks to impose itself on a nation that’s not ready to quit fossil fuels cold turkey. He also has a driving desire for reelection. In other words, he wants instant gratification.
But as anyone who’s familiar with the Stanford marshmallow experiment knows, instant gratification folks are rarely as successful as those who’ve “learn[ed] to labor and to wait.”