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Oil spill politics

Guest Blogger

John Hofmeister has an insider’s view on our nation’s energy travails. In his book “Why We Hate the Oil Companies,” recently released by Palgrave Macmillan, the former president of Shell Oil lays out his concerns. He dresses down energy companies for actions that have ensured a negative public image – so negative that any steps they take to find new energy sources or make energy cleaner or more efficient are met by skepticism. He also chastises the government for years of failed policymaking. Here, Hofmeister, now board chairman of the National Urban League and founder of the non-profit Citizens for Affordable Energy, assesses the politics of the Gulf oil spill.

By John Hofmeister

By rewarding blue state anti-drilling activists with the deepwater drilling moratorium in reaction to his powerlessness over the Gulf oil spill five weeks into the tragic event, President Obama deepened the alienation of red state drilling enthusiasts. He also incentivized an antagonistic industry to undermine his leadership by appealing to the courts and eventually the people. The courts know when an action is “arbitrary and capricious” and have so ruled.

Millions of Americans who every day will buy much higher priced gas in 2012 will hear the oil industry lament its loss of domestic access and production. They will be reminded in an election year what the president did to drive up the price of gas.

The facts, which the oil companies know far better than politicians, are on the side of the drilling enthusiasts. Every morning as President Obama awakes to his duties, one of them is to see to it that America has the 20 million barrels of oil it needs to get through the day.

Like it or not, we burn through 10,000 gallons of oil per second in this country and nothing will change that during the president’s first and – because of likely high gas prices -- only term. By choosing politics over energy production the president has planted the seeds of his administration’s demise.

Americans will not tolerate high gas prices knowing that the United States has more oil and gas natural resources (conventional and unconventional) than the Middle East, but are not allowed to produce them because of government prohibitions.

He’s the eighth consecutive president to promise energy independence and will join his seven predecessors in a frustrating failure.

He’s seeking a flawed solution in an election year to promote the impressions of strength and decisiveness. But his bravado will lose out to energy realities. The nation’s thirst for oil at reasonable prices will always win, unless and until this nation manages its energy future differently.

Politics and energy are like oil and water. They don’t mix and never will. Oil demand outlasts politicians’ histrionics.

To secure a second term and get serious about energy independence, the president should propose the creation of an independent regulatory agency to govern the nation’s future energy solutions. Get energy policy out of the Congress and the White House. Both are committed to partisanship, elections, and energy tactics that don’t make a wit’s difference.

Only a Fed-like creation, a Federal Energy Resources Board, constituted by law and governed by a board independent governors serving 14-year terms who know what they are doing, can decide the means by which we have more energy from all sources. They will guide us toward efficient technologies, environmental protections and the necessary infrastructure. An energy resources board can manage an industry that politicians can’t and enable it to deliver energy that’s affordable, available and sustainable.

By Steven E. Levingston  |  August 16, 2010; 5:30 AM ET
Categories:  Guest Blogger  | Tags: gulf oil spill; obama reaction to spill; offshore drilling;  
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Do they tell us the truth ?

Time for Boycott ?

Shellfish beds in Massachusetts were closed for up to eight years after the 2003 oil spill. The fish around Buzzards Bay passed the PAH test but tasted like old rubber tires

If they start selling gulf shrimp we should boycott all shrimp .Epidemiologic evidence on the relationship between polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and cancer is a fact! You can't taste PAH.

On April 27, 2003, Bouchard Barge 120 hit an obstacle in Buzzards Bay, creating a 12-foot rupture in its hull and discharging an estimated 98,000 gallons of No. 6 oil. The oil is known to have affected an estimated 90 miles of shoreline, numerous bird species, and recreational use of the bay, such as shell fishing and boating.

Posted by: fnhaggerty | August 16, 2010 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Why do we hate the oil companies? Gee, let me count the billions and trillions of ways they've artificially manipulated the market to reap their outrageous profits. The War in Iraq was all about Bush and Cheney getting their grubby hands on Iraq's oil and if the writer was at Cheney's secret Energy Task Force meeting, as I assume he was, then he knows exactly. Thanks, Wash Post, for giving another of these cretins national exposure.

Posted by: Byrd3 | August 16, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Interesting solution, a Federal Energy Board. Let's see, how many retired coal and oil executives should be on that board? Almost all of them? Maybe a token scientist or two to lend the slightest wif of legitimacy?

That is a lousy trojan horse of an idea. The American people, like spoiled children, want cheap energy, big fast faux-sexy cars, McMansions with all the cheesy greasy trimmins, and just about every other over hyped bauble paraded before their slack jawed hungry faces .... well, many Americans want it all for nothing.

Still, there are quite a few that understand that what we do, how we live and consume matters. More and more people are getting 'environmentalism' and the importance of investing in our human infrastructure, in our society.

Robber Barons of the right are trying hard to foist a false choice upon the American people. The false choice between prosperity and responsible stewardship of our world and one another. The choice is a false choice because there are legitimate and effective alternatives to cheap gasoline and coal fired electricity. There are alternatives to drugs rushed to market on sketchy science, there are alternatives to industrial farming. Every one of these alternatives costs money and will pay many times over in the future. Prudent investment in our future is the choice Hofmeister purposely leaves out of this shallow paean to American self indulgence and greed. Hofmeister insists American's are too selfish and stupid to understand the consequences of our short sighted 'Chamber of Commerce' driven policy. Hofmeister would have us sell to the lowest bidder. To give our health and future up for nothing.

Posted by: right_as_rain | August 16, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

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