The discourse on oil must change
The editors of the widely popular Oil Drum blog, which covers the entire range of oil-related topics, have issued a statement on the appalling political response we've seen from Washington in reaction to the rise in gas prices. It's a very good read:
Demagoguery and grandstanding are not strategies for addressing our energy problems. As an alternative, the editors of The Oil Drum put forth the following recommendations:
- It is nonsensical for political leaders of both parties to eliminate the gas tax temporarily or permanently as this will only worsen our dependence on oil by disincentivizing the innovation of oil alternatives and oil conservation efforts.
- Both mainstream American political parties are doing their country a disservice by accusing convenient scapegoats of price gouging or price fixing instead of educating the public about how the price of gas is actually set.
- Right now, governments should be focused on helping us cure our "addiction to oil." The answer does not lie in lowering gas prices, which will only encourage people to drive more and further waste our valuable resources. As the Department of Energy funded Hirsch Report on Peak Oil laid out, the consequences of not taking steps to transition away from oil could be dramatic to our economic system. Appropriate solutions include large-scale research, development, and implementation programs to improve the scalability of alternative sources of energy, other projects geared towards improving mass transit and carpooling programs across the country, providing incentives to buy smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles, and promoting a campaign to increase awareness about conservation.
I have deep problems with the massive power that the federal instrument can wield. But, as I wrote yesterday, it's got the most reach, power and access to capital of any entity on the planet. Why we should hear such outdated, reactionary, hysterical nonsense out of it on rising gas prices is a testament for the need to bring our political system into the 21st century.