Tim Dunkin: Gas Pains

Renew AmericaBy Tim Dunkin

It hurts, badly. We're all feeling it, I'm sure. We wince every time we fill up. As the dial on the pump spins like that big wheel on The Price is Right, we can just see the money flying out of our wallets and into the coffers of big, expensive government where it will be thrown away and wasted like yesterday's Mega Bean Burrito. Gas prices continue to rise, are in the process of topping $4.00 a gallon, and may even hit $5.00 before summer is over.

So why is this happening? Are gas prices rising because the big oil companies are just trying to cash in and make a killing, as the Left would have us believe? Well, no, actually. Indeed, the Left itself is the reason why gas is getting outrageously expensive. By supressing the production of gasoline and other petroleum-based fuels, the Obama administration and the environmentalists are helping to ratchet up our cost of living by making energy prices skyrocket — which is ironically about the only campaign promise that Barack Obama has actually kept.

See, as with most other commodities, the cost of petroleum-based fuels relies in large part on market forces. Even with speculation on oil futures, ultimately, the price of oil (and thereby anything refined from it) must obey the laws of supply and demand. When supply goes up, price goes down, and vice versa. When demand goes up, price goes up, and so forth. And this is where the monkey-wrenching by the radical Green Left and their allies in our government, especially in the EPA, comes into play.

Under the current administration, the efforts by the Greens in the EPA to undermine American access to energy have accelerated greatly. By stifling the exploration, development, and marketing of our petroleum resources, they cause the price at the pump to go up. Simple supply and demand. When demand for petroleum goes up (as it is with China and India rapidly industrializing, as well as America and the West's own steady increase), but supply is restricted, cost will rise sharply — which is what we're seeing. And make no mistake, the leftists in our own government are doing everything they can to restrict America's access to her own oil supplies.

What's so surprising to many people, given the current energy woes, is that America is literally floating on a massive sea of oil. We have something like six times the proven petroleum reserves as Saudi Arabia. There are hundreds of billions of barrels locked up in the Bakken formation alone, under North Dakota. We have billions more in Alaska, both on land and offshore. Our Gulf Coast sits atop another several billion. Just recently, even more billions of barrels were discovered under Texas, augmenting fields that we had thought were just about played out. Truly, if there is any country in the world that should be paying less than a dollar a gallon for their gasoline, it should be us.

But we're not.

Why is that? It's because our own government prevents us from getting at it. Using their regulatory capacity, the EPA and the Obama administration have systematically worked to stop the development of new supplies, and to hinder our access to those already in use. The administration (illegally) refuses to grant permits to drill in the shallow waters in our Gulf region — instead forcing companies to drill in excessively deep water where the likelihood of an event like last year's Deepwater Rig blowout increases astronomically. Of course then, when the inevitable disaster occurs, it can be used to serve as an excuse for further restricting offshore drilling — because the practice is so "dangerous" — but only because the government does it's level best to make it that way. It's like cutting somebody's brake line, and then after they have have an accident telling them that we're going to ban them from driving anymore since cars are dangerous.

But that's not all. You know the big new Texas field I mentioned? Can't touch it, EPA won't allow it. In fact, we just found out this week that the EPA is planning on shutting down some other fields in western Texas and eastern New Mexico that are already producing — which will reduce our supply even further. Why? Because of some "endangered species" they found out there! On top of that, Shell just announced that they have to scrap plans to begin drilling a 26 billion barrel field off the northern coast of Alaska this summer — because the EPA refuses to issue them air permits, of all things. By the way, for those who think that the "big oil companies" are just rolling in dough that they make with minimal time and effort, consider the fact that Shell spent the last five years and $4 billion exploring and preparing to develop that field — the lease on it alone costs upwards of $2.2 billion. Do you want to know where those "obscene profits" the oil companies make go? There's your answer. Usually, they go to explore and develop new fields (i.e. reinvestment, which any smart company does). In this case, however, it went down a government-dug rathole.

Another problem is that, even if we were allowed to boost our production, there's still a bottleneck with out refining capacity. As we surely know, before it's usable, petroleum has to be refined. It is "cracked" in large, intricate, extremely expensive refineries, where the various constituent components are separated out and collected — gasoline, diesel, kerosene, fuel oil — all the way up to the really long-chain semi-solid greases used as lubricants. The problem we have here is that the most recently built refinery in America is older than I am. We're essentially operating off of the refining capacity we had in the mid-1970s (that's the only clue you're getting). In fact, we're actually operating on less capacity, since as refineries grow older, they grow less efficient, meaning your have operate them that much further below their "official" operational capacity. Hence, to fill the gap, we have to have a lot of what we use refined elsewhere and imported — which is expensive. All of which gets passed on to you and me.

Why haven't we had any new refineries built? There are a number of reasons, such as the relatively high cost of coastal property (which is where most refineries tend to be located, since it's nearer the sources of oil, whether drilled offshore, or offloaded from tankers in port), and the NIMBY factor (for obvious reasons, nobody wants to live near one). However, these factors really only affect location, not whether a refinery gets built at all. For that, we have..drum roll...the EPA to thank, once again.

Adding to our woes is the fact that increased oil prices don't just hit your wallet when you fill up at the local service station. Just about everything we consume is transported via some mode of transportation that uses petroleum-derived fuels — trucks and trains that use diesel, or airplanes that use some grade of jet fuel. When that cost goes up, the cost of everything being carried goes up as well — food, consumer goods, everything. Plus, many plastics are derived from petroleum-based feedstocks, so when oil prices go up, the cost of things made out of polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, and many other polymers also goes up. That means everything from plastic pags to styrofoam cups to safety razors to yogurt containers.

To add insult to injury, in response to the flak that he and his administration are starting to take (his poll numbers are diving, by the way), Obama this week called on those dastardly big oil companies to stop being greedy and instead start producing more fuel so prices can go down. This, after his administration just closed off access to billions of barrels just waiting to be pumped and burned.

Now mind you, it's not that Obama and his crew are necessarily against drilling for oil, per se. After all, a few months ago, he handed over $2 billion to Brazil to help them develop their offshore oil fields.

No — Obama and his fellow leftists just don't like Americans drilling for American oil.

Why? Well, I tend to think it has something to do with the Left's efforts to destroy the productive middle class in this country. I've noted before that the single biggest obstacle to the leftist, statist, domineering Transnational "Progressives" is the presence of a strong, vibrant middle class that works hard, generates wealth, and not coincidentally, generally holds to a set of values and standards that are much different from those held by the sissified dandies who generally make up our transnational "ruling class." The American middle class is large enough and wealthy enough to stave off the subservience that leftists demand, when left to our own devices.

Which is, of course, why we can't be left to our own devices. Having endured decades of being the cash cow that gets milked every April, we nevertheless have to be reduced in power and self-reliance if we are to be fit into the global new order that the Tranzis would like to see put into place. That means sending our jobs overseas to countries where they'll work for a fraction of what we could even barely afford to. That means importing millions more cheap laborers from the Third World to drive our wages down. That means engineering a housing crisis to destroy our investments in landed wealth. That means confiscating our savings (which is in the works) so that we have to rely on government handouts. That means reducing the quality and accessibility of our health care.

And it means driving our cost of living up to prohibitive levels by making fuel, and everything that depends on transportation, so expensive that our ability to operate, travel, and live freely without relying on government transportation and government subsidies is taken away.

Did you ever ask yourself why the lefties seem to be so enamored with these various "light rail" schemes that they're trying to push off onto us all over the country, even though they're manifest boondoggles?

Free people have the economic freedom to live without government "help." Free people can travel where they want, how they want, when they want. The Left do not want us to be free people, hence the policies that they have been systematically pursuing for years, and in some cases decades. Serfs do what they're told, and don't go anywhere they're not allowed to go. That's what the Left wants — for this vast bulk of Americans in the middle class to be reduced to serfs, dependent upon and subservient to the government.

There's a method to their madness. The environmentalists, the EPA, the Obama administration — they're not pursuing the energy policy that we see because they don't realize what the consequences of their actions will be. They know what will happen. They want it to happen. They want you and I to travel less, to get used to being confined to one area, to become acclimated to the loss of the psychological sense of freedom. Complaining to them that their policies are bad for this country will only fall on deaf ears. They know it. That's their whole point.

The only way to put an end to is to get serious about engaging in our political process to see true patriots elected. We have far too many politicians in our government whose loyalties lie with the transnational body of global "elites," rather than with the people of this country — including many so-called "conservatives" and "Republicans." It's time to identify these people and electorally eliminate them. To do that, we need to stop listening to the media, stop being intimidated by the good ol' boy establishment, and get active in rocking the boat by electing patriots who will pursue an America-first and freedom-first energy policy, among other things. We have the mechanism still in place — but it doesn't mean anything if we throw up our hands in despair and fail to use it.

© Tim Dunkin