Thursday, November 27, 2008
By Rep. Jeff Duncan • November 24, 2008
Here in the Southeast, we recently saw severe gas shortages because of Hurricane Ike. All along the I-85 corridor, you couldn't find stations with gas, and when you did, you paid a steep premium for it. It was reminiscent of the 1970s oil crisis. The problem is despite the falling gas prices today, we are still going to be in a modern day oil crisis.
During this election, you undoubtedly saw the ads featuring Texas wildcat oilman Boone Pickens talking about our nation's addiction to foreign oil. He does a very good job in laying out the problem. And unlike most elected officials in Washington, he has a plan to solve the problem: Use America's abundance of wind and natural gas to break us of our addition to foreign oil.
Today we import some 70 percent of the oil we consume and we pay approximately $700 billion per year for it. As a country, we spend as much as the Wall Street bailout is projected to cost every year on imported oil. And forecasts show that we will continue to import more going forward unless we do something to change it.
In Washington, the solution of the day is "drill here, drill now." While that may make a good bumper sticker slogan, I think it's shortsighted and misses the mark. Drilling is good, but we need a lot more than that.
We need to take advantage of every resource we have here at home to provide energy. This does include more drilling, but also needs to include using clean coal, increased use of natural gas for transportation, looking at nuclear and investing in renewable resources.
The Pickens Plan uses power generated with wind to replace power generated from natural gas. The natural gas that wouldn't be needed for power generation could then be used to fuel large truck and fleet vehicles like city buses, municipal trash trucks and even some big city taxi fleets. This will cut down on the amount of oil consumed and lower the amount we spend on importing oil.
What I like most about the Pickens Plan is that instead of continuing to send $700 billion per year overseas for oil, we can start to invest some of the savings the United States. By investing in wind, natural gas, solar, cellulosic ethanol and a whole host of other renewable technologies here in the United States, we are investing in our economy, our jobs and our future.
Here in South Carolina, we could reap the benefits of those new technologies and new jobs.
That's one reason I have signed the Pickens Energy Independence Pledge and urge my fellow elected officials at all levels of government to do the same at www.pickensplan.com. As elected officials we have to show true leadership on this issue if we are going to break our addiction to imported oil.
Pickens has been asked several times why someone at his age -- he's 80 years old, by the way -- would be spending as much time and money as he is on this. His answer is simple. It's not for him, it's for our children and grandchildren. If we don't do something to tackle this problem now, their standard of living is at risk.
I have children of my own, and completely understand his answer.
By KEVIN BRYANT and JEFF DUNCAN - Guest Columnists
Two years ago, following the first Republican bloodletting, our colleague Sen. Danny Verdin wrote that the election “turned not on the voters’ embrace of ideas offered by Democrats but the voters’ rejection of Republicans who abandoned them.” Today, following further losses in Congress and the loss of the White House, Sen. Verdin’s diagnosis stands out in bold. Republicans can blame no one but themselves for their exile.
Two years ago federal spending had increased 69 percent since 1994, and 49 percent since 2001 alone. It never stopped growing, and now the Heritage Foundation reports that it is 57 percent higher than 2001.
Republicans hoped two years ago that Randy Cunningham, Jack Abramoff and Mark Foley would be exceptions that prove the rule. However, corruption continues unabated. Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens is a convicted felon, and of course there’s Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig.
The primary reason Republicans fell like a stone this year is that they have the sense of a box of rocks. A good friend of ours likes to say there’s no education in the second kick of the mule. The only hope therefore is that the second kick just received will rid of us of the folks who don’t seem to get the fact that the American public is tired of broken promises, hypocrisy and outright lies.
What the public does want is conservative leadership. Sen. Verdin pointed out two years ago that “The evidence clearly proves that conservative issues and candidates win.” Voters affirmed that fact again this year as they approved conservative measures and candidates from coast to coast.
Arizona approved a marriage amendment by 12 percentage points and increases in penalties on illegal hiring by 18 points. Arkansas passed a ban on adoptions by same-sex couples by 13 points. California voted for Obama by a 24 point margin, but it also preserved traditional marriage by 4 points. Florida went for Obama by 3 points and also preserved traditional marriage by 24.
San Francisco, the pit of despair for most conservatives, actually rejected the legalization of prostitution, a ban of Junior ROTC from high school campuses and the renaming of the sewer treatment plant for President Bush. Talk about hope for change.
Conservative candidates also won in Obama states. Obama carried Indiana, but so did the conservative governor, Mitch Daniels, by 18 points.
The 2008 election indicates that when voters in most places are given a chance to vote for conservatives or conservative positions, they do.
The majority of voters chose not, of course, to vote for John McCain. Sen. McCain would have earned more votes if he had presented more voters with a conservative choice.
We wish Sen. McCain had explained that the difference between a tax credit and “spreading the wealth” is that the former is when you keep your own money and the latter is when government takes your money and gives it to someone else.
We wish Senator McCain had not said that, “you don’t raise taxes in a bad economy” and instead said: “We have enough revenue in Washington. We don’t need to raise taxes at all.”
We really, really wish Sen. McCain had said in answer to Jim Lehrer’s question on whether he would support the bailout that not only would he not support it but also that he would lie down in the Senate floor before politicians stuck taxpayers with a $700 billion bill for a problem that politicians created in the first place. We really wish he had said that instead of, “oh of course I’ll vote for it.”
He did not, however, and therefore conservatives were left wondering whether Sen. McCain really believed in the same things they do. The majority of the Republican Party currently suffers from the same disease as Democrats before them and, for that matter, the same disease as Wall Street bankers. They simply believe that government is a good thing and more government must, by definition, be an even better thing.
Meanwhile, a recent survey indicates that while only 9 percent of voters believe that the Republican Party is too conservative, more than 60 percent believe it has either “lost its way” or become “incompetent.”
The voters get it. If Republicans ever want to regain the mandate of the voters, they need to take the hint: Do what you promise you’ll do, not what Democrats do.
Republicans do not need to search their souls. They need simply to revisit their principles. And this time, they need to stick to them.
Mr. Bryant represents Anderson County in the S.C. Senate. Mr. Duncan represents Laurens and Newberry counties in the S.C. House.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Crude oil prices down as demand falters
Crude oil prices fell $3.23 to $55.65 per barrel Wednesday on reports that China's imports had declined in October and U.S. gasoline consumption was behind last year's consumption level for the 29th consecutive week.
"With the global macro situation looking pretty lousy, we probably shouldn't be looking for a material rebound in oil prices until some time in 2009," Bart Melek, a global commodity strategist at BMO Capital Markets told The Wall Street Journal.
Heating oil prices also fell Wednesday, down 0.0991 cents to $1.825 per gallon. Reformulated blendstock gasoline fell 0.06 cents to $1.24 per gallon. Natural gas prices also fell, down 0.358 cents to $6.349 per million British thermal units.
At the pump, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $2.202 Wednesday, down 0.018 cents from Tuesday's $2.22 a gallon, AAA said.