Saturday, June 14, 2008

Election Year History Repeating Itself

The supposed oil crisis today is like returning to days of old, 1979 - 1986. History always has a way of repeating itself and the times we are experiencing today are no different than 20 years ago. The rhetoric and reaction from Congress and the auto industry is the same as we heard and experienced during the '80s.

Everyone blamed OPEC, our dependency on foreign oil, big oil companies and over consumption due to the publics wasteful habits and auto industry's failure to provide more fuel efficient vehicles. The answers back then were to raise the CAFE standards, reduce consumption, institute price controls, ration gas, use of alternative energy sources like solar, wind and alternative fuels for our vehicles, and the 1980 Windfall Profit Tax. Nothing worked until the mid 80s when countries that were not part of OPEC like, Mexico, Canada, Venezuela, Nigeria and others started producing more oil and we upped our own production in Texas, Oklahoma and Prudhoe Bay Alaska. We also imported more oil from the North Sea region. The result was an over abundance of oil in the market creating the oil glut. Oil prices tumbled to an all time low. The auto industry experienced a public outcry from their dangerous fuel efficient cars they had introduced in order to satisfy the new CAFE standards. Congress added more and more safety standards forcing the price of cars to skyrocket and the industry responded by taking the cheaper smaller vehicles off the market. The CAFE standards were never met and Congress forgot about them after the oil crisis subsided.

In 1990 President Bush caved into the pressure from environmentalist and court decisions by signing the executive order increasing the ban on offshore drilling. This led to an increased dependence on foreign oil and a loss of American jobs. Over the years Congress has placed more and more restrictions on oil refineries and oil production in the United States. The same old rhetoric is being heard in Congress today by Senators like Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez:

"This administration has proposed one reckless drilling plan after another that threatens our environment and risks harm to New Jersey's economy," Menendez said. "This is unacceptable, and I pledge to do everything in my power to ensure that their plan does not become reality."

This was in response to a 5 year plan lifting restrictions on Offshore drilling. Like in the 80s Congress is relying on technology and the auto industry to bail us out of high gas prices. It didn't work back then and it will not work today. We cannot wait 20-30 years for our 'Jetson' style flying electric cars.

No comments:

Post a Comment