Editor’s Notebook: A Few Things I Just Don’t Understand

January 2016, Vol. 243, No. 1

A former classmate of mine posts on Facebook a photo of 1970, yearning again for gasoline at 40 cents a gallon. Do you want to go back to earning $2 an hour? Do you realize that the $1.75 you’re probably paying today is less in adjusted dollars than what you paid in 1970? But then I have to remind myself that this is how the average American feels about their right to cheap gas. The other day the corner Exxon station dropped to $1.95 and you couldn’t get near the place.

That political hound Nancy Pelosi claimed everything was going beautifully during the recent budget negotiations, until those tricky Republicans inserted a provision lifting the 1975 ban on exports of crude oil. Though the measure passed the House and was probably signed into law by now, the California Democrat said she was “shocked” that they would dare add this to the budget, especially coming just days after the Paris climate change accord agreed to limit use of fossil fuels. Maybe Nancy has a point: their specially formulated boutique gasoline prices are so high in her California that motorists probably wish they could put a sail or solar panel on their cars. If only it were so.

With oil and gas prices near historic lows, isn’t it time to raise the federal tax on gasoline so that we can repair our roads, bridges and other decaying infrastructure? Would it be a bad idea to put a $2/gallon bottom on gasoline?  But would anyone have the courage to even suggest a tax increase in an election year? Not in America.

Hillary Clinton might very well be one of today’s most astute politicians, but she has a surprisingly short memory. When she was secretary of State she was for the Keystone XL pipeline. And then she wasn’t.   As a senator, Clinton voted to expand offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and end restrictions on drilling off the coast of Florida. And now she’s against drilling off of our coasts (though not necessarily the Gulf).

Pushed during her campaign in Iowa to stop taking money from fossil fuel companies – which her two opponents, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, have pledged to do – she answered, “Well, I don’t know that I ever have. I’m not exactly one of their favorites.” She’s all for renewables, of course, but just doesn’t think it’s fair to reject contributions based on donor ties.

An article in phillynews.com (Dec. 18) noted Clinton’s long history of accepting millions in campaign and philanthropic money from energy companies and lobbyists. The article quoted data from the Center for Responsive Politics that oil and gas companies have contributed over $700,000 to Clinton’s campaigns throughout her political career. In 2008, she was the seventh-largest recipient of oil and gas campaign cash in the entire Congress. Meanwhile, ExxonMobil has given at least $1 million to the Clinton Foundation and $2 million to its event arm, the Clinton Global Initiative, said the Wall Street Journal. ExxonMobil has contributed $16.8 million to Vital Voices, a nonprofit that Clinton co-founded to empower women, the paper reported.

Now, however, it’s important for Clinton to latch onto President Obama’s climate change “legacy.” As she delicately puts it, “Individuals who might have some connection to whatever industry, I’m not going to do a litmus test on them.  I don’t think there’s a lot that support me; but the companies don’t, because they know that I’m going to be very adamant about moving us toward clean, renewable energy.”

Let’s just change the facts to suit our agenda.

Then we have API CEO and President Jack Gerard thanking the House for passing the bill lifting the crude oil export ban.

“Today was a big win for the American people that made history with a strong bipartisan vote. House lawmakers showed leadership by strengthening our nation’s energy future….Lifting the crude export ban will lead to job creation, economic growth, improved balance of trade, and help keep downward pressure on gasoline prices for consumers.

“With the administration’s push to allow Iran to export its oil to the global market, it’s time for U.S. producers to have the same opportunity. Our allies around the world are eager to reduce their reliance on energy from less friendly nations.”

Isn’t it time to give it a break, Jack? We already know you’re not going to get a White House invitation, at least not in 2016.

Written by Jeff Share, Editor



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