Herman Cain's Commentary Archive 2009-2012

March 5, 2012

Gas Price Solution: $2.50 is bold and achievable

March 5, 2012
By Herman Cain

When George W. Bush left office, gasoline was less than $2 a gallon. When Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House, it was $1.13 a gallon.

Today, it’s inching toward $4 a gallon. Remember when Democrats used to blame Bush for what they said were “high” gas prices because he and his Texas oil buddies were all in cahoots or something?

No politician is to “blame” for the price of a global commodity. Contrary to what a lot of people think – and what the media leads you to believe – the president of the United States does not “micro-manage” the price of goods.

But on a larger scale, government policy can affect both supply and demand, and when government energy policy becomes exceedingly ridiculous – as it is now – it’s no surprise that we start paying excessive prices at the pump.

Federal policy today is about as unfriendly to energy independence as it has ever been. We put severe restrictions on domestic oil drilling (both on- and off-shore), on the operation of refineries and even on the distribution of existing gasoline supplies. We rely heavily on unfriendly nations like Venezuela, and on Middle Eastern nations who may not be enemies per se but are certainly not our close allies.

Even a proposed pipeline allowing us to buy oil directly from friendly Canada has been met with presidential opposition.

And the worst thing of all, as Energy Secretary Steven Chu admitted last week, is that the Obama Administration doesn’t care that all these policies drive up gas prices. They want gas prices high! Chu said in 2008 that he wishes we were more like Europe, where they pay much higher prices than we do in order to force conservation. Straining the family budget is not conservation, it’s dumb.

When you have policies like this, it doesn’t leave much that anyone can do to make a positive difference. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) wants to ask the Saudis to increase production to help us out. That’s what you’re reduced to when you refuse to maximize our own energy resources – begging sheikhs, emirs and princes for favors.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) wants the Commodities Trading Commission to do an investigation. Are you kidding me? The rest of the Democrats just keep blaming the oil companies and Bush, as if it wouldn’t be nice to have gas prices back where they were when Bush left office.

There are, however, things we can do. I was campaigning with Newt Gingrich last week when he unveiled a plan that can bring gas prices back down to $2.50 a gallon. Newt’s plan is bold, even though it mainly consists of common-sense measures that recognize the principles of supply and demand.

Newt’s plan would:
• Remove bureaucratic and legal obstacles to responsible oil and natural gas development in the United States, off shore and on land.
• End the ban on oil shale development in the American West, where shale gives us the potential to produce three times the amount of oil as Saudi Arabia.
• Give coastal states federal royalty revenue-sharing, so they will have an incentive to allow off-shore development.
• Reduce frivolous lawsuits that hold up energy production by enacting loser-pays laws. That way, if someone files a frivolous environmental lawsuit and loses, the plaintiff will have to pay all legal costs for the other side. That will make a lot of people think twice before abusing the legal system.
• Use new oil and gas royalties to finance cleaner energy research and projects. For some reason, Democrats act as if we have to choose between oil and alternative sources of energy. That’s ridiculous. The answer to our energy needs is all of the above.
• Get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency, which does nothing but drive up energy prices and kill jobs, and establish a new Environmental Solutions Agency. The new agency would use positive incentives, and would work cooperatively with local government and industry to achieve better environmental outcomes. The idea is to meet both our energy needs and important environmental standards, rather than constantly going to war against energy on behalf of the environment, which is what the EPA does.

This can be done. Newt’s $2.50 plan is as bold as my 9-9-9 tax code replacement plan. But first we need leaders who think energy independence matters, and is worth achieving. We don’t have leaders like that now, which you should remember the next time you pay way more than $2.50 a gallon for a tank of gas.

It doesn’t have to be that way.