Dogs, Ponies, & Gas Prices

All week this week, the federal government has focused on gas prices and oil industry subsidies in lieu of the summer driving season beginning this month. The House of Representatives has given themselves a stage for some ground thumping:

  • The House Oversight Committee is holding a hearing today entitled “Making the Gulf Coast Whole Again: Assessing the Recovery Efforts of BP and the Obama Administration After the Oil Spill.” Quite a mouth-full title to disguise an ear-full of saber rattling amounting to pretty much nothing.
  • Also today, the House Natural Resources Committee will demand the Obama Administration quicken the approval of air permits needed for Arctic drilling in Alaska. Never mind the fact that even with the approval of new permits, it takes at least a few years to get all the extraction equipment setup and ready for production… also amounting to very little for gas prices now.
  • The Energy Department is holding hearings on different natural gas extraction methods for on-ground sites. Not sure what this will accomplish either other than act as a soapbox for politicians.
Not to mention a whole slew of other pointless hearings that will serve nothing and no one:
  • Congressional Natural Gas Caucus Co-Chairmen Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and Dan Boren (D-Okla.) held an event on Wednesday on the role of states in regulating natural-gas drilling.
  • The Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on Tuesday on electric grid reliability.
  • The Transportation Committee held a hearing on Wednesday on the Environmental Protection Agency’s nutrients policies.
  • The Natural Resources Committee will hold a second hearing aimed at “identifying roadblocks to wind and solar energy on public lands and waters.”
  • The Science Committee examined “harmful algal blooms” on Wednesday.
  • The Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing Friday on legislation to ensure the country has a domestic supply of key minerals.
  • The Energy and Commerce Committee will take a closer look Friday at the administration’s regulatory review plans.
But, at the end of the week, at least we’ll have heard our elected officials make grandiose claims, some of which aren’t even true; claims that they will use in reelection campaigns to bolster their preferred stance on energy policy. So please do not be fooled by the dog and pony show on exposé in Washington. Do, however, understand that there is little Congress or the President can do to effect oil prices. As Lon Anderson said to Capital News Connection, “Really, there is very little that Congress can do. The price of fuel is really driven on the world market.” And remember, like I’ve pointed out before, speculators are not to blame either.

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