ANDRES OPPENHEIMER / LAWRENCE JACKSON
May 10, 2007
House Energy and Commerce Committee member Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., right, and House Judiciary Chairman Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., announced that they are submitting legislation to prevent price gauging at the gas pump.
Hurrah! Great news! When I filled up my car's gas tank yesterday, I paid an all-time record $3.41 a gallon, and experts are predicting that gasoline prices may soon reach $4 a gallon.
I can't wait!
I'm not kidding. I am more convinced than ever that unless gasoline prices rise above $4 a gallon, there won't be a nationwide uproar strong enough to force Washington to get serious about reducing the U.S. suicidal dependence on foreign oil.
Barring $4-a-gallon gasoline prices, America will not get serious about reducing toxic emissions that worsen global warming, and will continue to fund corrupt Middle Eastern kingdoms that deny basic civil rights to women and fund Islamic fundamentalist schools, some of which preach violence against innocent ''infidels'' in the name of Allah.
And, closer to home, without $4 a gallon gasoline, Washington will most likely continue filling the pockets of oil-rich tropical autocrats.
Venezuela's narcissist-Leninist President Hugo Chávez is a perfect example of U.S. oil-funded radicalism. When he was first elected in 1998 and gas prices were at $9 a barrel, Chávez was ridiculing critics who speculated that he would become a radical leftist. ''Me, a Communist?'' he asked reporters.
Today, with oil prices at more than $62 a barrel, Chávez ends his speeches proclaiming ''Socialism or Death!'' He claims that the United States is ''the cruelest, most terrible, most cynical, most murderous empire that has existed.'' And he chaperones Iranian Holocaust-denying President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad throughout Latin America.
Granted, the Bush administration will tell you that it is doing a lot to reduce America's oil consumption. In his recent State of the Union address, Bush laid plans to reduce U.S. gasoline usage by 20 percent over the next 10 years, among other things by increasing the supply of alternative fuels such as ethanol.
But Bush, a Texas oilman at heart, and the U.S. Congress, not immune to the car lobby, are far too timid in attacking the U.S. foreign oil addiction.
On Monday, the U.S. Energy Department announced that gasoline prices hit a national record of $3.05 a gallon, because of bottlenecks in U.S. refineries. At the Miami Beach Shell station where I filled up my tank, regular gasoline was $3.41; Plus gasoline was $3.60 a gallon.
Judging from U.S. Energy Information Administration figures, the long-term picture is bleak: based on current trends, Americans will continue buying SUVs, Hummers and ever-growing cars, and U.S. dependence on foreign oil will increase. Consider:
• While light trucks and SUVs accounted for 19 percent of all vehicles sold in the United States in 1975, the percentage grew to 50 percent by 2005. By 2015, light trucks and SUVs are projected to account for 52 percent of all new U.S. car sales, according to EIA projections.
• U.S. imports of foreign oil have soared from 35 percent of total U.S. oil consumption in 1973 to 60 percent of total U.S. oil consumption in 2006, according to the EIA.
''Overall imports of oil are going to increase, as we consume more petroleum,'' Jonathan Cogan, a spokesman for the EIA, told me in a telephone interview Wednesday.
My opinion: This is insane! I have nothing against you buying a light truck or an SUV if you are a soccer mom with quintuplets, a concert bass player, or a rancher in Montana.
But when I see these ever-growing vehicles driving through Miami -- where I have yet to find a hill, let alone a mountain -- with just one person inside, carrying nothing, I can only conclude that America deserves the foreign oil-rich despots that are causing so much trouble.
As long as America doesn't get serious about reducing oil consumption, petro-dictators will grow stronger, and there will be more of them. So when I see $3.41 gas prices, I say: ''Bravo!'' The sooner we get to $4, the better!