It is high time for President Bush to declare a national emergency, override objections to drilling for additional oil, invoke a workable national energy policy and stop the manipulation of petroleum supplies and prices by the Congressional Democrats.
Precedent for this action comes straight from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Dems number one Icon, who took similar action to put a stop on the market free fall known as the Great Depression. You can also look to Democratic President Harry S. Truman, although he wasn't as successful as his predecessor.
Roosevelt started off by declaring that the US was in a state of emergency under the auspices of the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917. By virtue of that law which hadn't been used since WWI, Roosevelt then took a series of actions to protect banks and prohibit the flow of gold and silver reserves out of the US.
Although the Trading With the Enemy Act of 1917 was passed during wartime it worked just fine for Roosevelt in that situation, considering that he believed he needed to make a strong statement and take action to put some form of confidence back in the country.
Granted, there are those who say Roosevelt's later policies actually extended the Great Depression, and that may be so. But this isn't about a long term fiduciary policy, this is about getting control of a runaway Congress that is deliberately damaging the United States' security in pursuit of its own illogical agenda.
Roosevelt's actions were based on emergency decrees enacted by President Abraham Lincoln at the outset of the Civil War - and later upheld by the Supreme Court - when he blockaded southern ports and appropriated funds to purchase war materials without authorization of Congress.
Truman, in his administration, took over control of the nation's steel mills, a move that ultimately was overturned, but had its desired effect, nonetheless. This was obviously a back-handed attempt to nationalize the steel industry and it went way too far.
I am not saying Bush should try to nationalize the oil industry as some Democrats in Congress have recommended. That is socialism, and it is not the oil industry that is deliberately placing restrictions on opening up new oil fields, it is Congress.
What we need now is action that will immediately reverse the soaring price of oil, which is based on the perception that demand is outstripping resources. By increasing the supply President Bush can buy some time to enact dramatic energy initiatives that will wean our country off carbon based fuels in the long term. By long term I am thinking a decade or less.
A reasonable argument could be made that if Roosevelt could put controls on the money supply during a time of severe economic crisis, even though we weren't at war, President Bush should be able to lift restrictions on drilling for oil long enough for the price per barrel to drop significantly and confidence to return to the economic sector.
This is particularly significant because we are at war and the actions of the Democrats in Congress, by restricting drilling for oil offshore, in shale deposits, and in that abysmal slab of barren, infertile wasteland known as the ANWR coastal plain - not the truly pristine sections of the reserve - certainly can be construed as helping our enemies.
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Photos courtesy of my friend Jim Bancroft who sent them to me via the Internet.
Gee, I just don't know how the Arctic tit mice are going to survive with a big oil rig smack in the middle of this pristine wilderness!
Did I mention the reports that say the total area the oil companies want to drill in is 2,000 acres, roughly the same size as Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C.?
This is the layout of the area in question. You'll notice that it isn't far to the long existing Prudhoe Bay oil field. The little tiny dot on the left of the green shaded area is where the drilling would occur. Note also the previously developed areas that aren't mentioned in Congressional speeches.
By artificially driving up the price of oil through artificially controlling the supply, the Democratic Congress is deliberately weakening the US economy, thus aiding our enemies who use the cost of the war as a rallying cry on the floor of the same Congress that is undermining the economy.
Wildlife adversely affected by presence of oil rig and pipeline in wilderness.
If President Bush takes a strong stand on this he does run the risk that his actions might be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, or they might naturally be extinguished in two years by legislative mandates. But I would much rather have him take firm decisive action to open up the oil supply immediately which would lighten the pressure on the futures market, drive down the price per barrel, and give the US breathing room to enact a forward-looking energy policy.
Then he could turn to the myriad alternatives that already are on the table but haven't been fully developed. Using alternative fuels such as hydrogen, natural gas and electricity instead of gasoline would not eliminate our use of petroleum products, but it certainly would put a big dent in the amount we need.
Personally, I favor getting us off of carbon based fuels completely. There are better ways to give us power, heat, and electricity and they don't pollute. But we can't do it overnight due to the massive infrastructure investment in finding, refining and delivering petroleum products. If we eliminate all the jobs associated with the gasoline industry overnight the economy would suffer greatly.
But we can do it in phases with minimal impact to the economy. The benefits would include a cleaner environment, ending our reliance on foreign oil for gasoline and power generation, and the Bush legacy would receive a major boost both immediately, and when historians are writing their analyses of his administration.
Monday, June 30, 2008