Suicidal Tendencies: Congress and Energy

At first glance, one would think that someone needs to explain the definition of incentive to Nancy Pelosi.

As they reversed their long-held opposition to more offshore oil exploration, Democrats said the increased taxes on oil companies in the bill and the collection of royalty payments from the drilling would yield billions of dollars to help finance the development of cleaner, renewable energy sources.

“We’re not trying to give incentives to drill, we’re giving incentives to invest in renewables and natural gas that will take us where we need to go,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) told reporters before the vote.

The legislation now moves to the Senate, where it will compete with three alternative proposals, each of which faces a difficult road to securing the 60 votes needed for passage.

Taking even more taxes from energy producers – already among the most heavily taxed industries in the nation – is not an incentive for them to produce new or old energy sources.

But it’s not about them. One must understand that Nancy Pelosi is not talking about energy companies that will produce the energy necessary now and in the future. She is talking about government and incentives for government to “invest in renewables and natural gas that will take us where we need to go.”

It gets worse.

Fred Kagan, co-architect of the successful surge strategy in Iraq, explains bluntly in The Weekly Standard how Pelosi’s Democrat colleagues in the Senate – namely Chuck Schumer, John Kerry and Claire McCaskill – torpedoed development contracts in Iraq for US energy companies. Those contracts were then awarded to a ready China instead, because Iraq needed the development immediately.

Why, after all the assistance we’ve given to Iraq over the past five years, was the first major Iraqi oil deal signed with China and not with an American or even a western company? The answer is, in part, because three Democratic senators intervened in Iraqi domestic politics earlier this year to prevent Iraq from signing short-term agreements with Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total, Chevron, and BP.

The Iraqi government was poised to sign no-bid contracts with those firms this summer to help make immediate and needed improvements in Iraq’s oil infrastructure. The result would have been significant foreign investment in Iraq, an expansion of Iraqi government revenues, and an increase in the global supply of oil. One would have thought that leading Democratic senators who claim to be interested in finding other sources of funding to replace American dollars in Iraq, in helping Iraq spend its own money on its own people, and in lowering the price of gasoline for American citizens, would have been all for it. Instead, Senators Chuck Schumer, John Kerry, and Claire McCaskill wrote a letter to Secretary of State Rice asking her “to persuade the GOI [Government of Iraq] to refrain from signing contracts with multinational oil companies until a hydrocarbon law is in effect in Iraq.” The Bush administration wisely refused to do so, but the resulting media hooraw in Iraq led to the cancellation of the contracts, and helps to explain why Iraq is doing oil deals instead with China.

These are the same suicidal tendencies that have allowed the House and Senate to sleep well at night while the same Chinese oil companies have trekked across the globe to drill off our own Florida coast while we continue to refuse.

Our economy cannot survive this for much longer. There is a global competition for energy resources and our elected leaders refuse to allow us to compete. Certainly not on a level playing field.

Oh, Nuts!
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