CA Motorists Pay Through the Hose
February 17, 2012
By Joseph Perkins
Newt Gingrich, the Republican presidential candidate, was in California this week to attend a series of campaign fund-raisers. He was provocative as usual as he spoke to supporters.
He called for the impeachment or replacement of the activist U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
He attributed job losses here in the Golden State to overregulation by such federal agencies as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
And he blasted United Teachers of Los Angeles, the city’s teachers union, for zealously protecting the jobs of even its most demonstrably incompetent members.
The former Speaker’s pronouncements resonated with the overwhelmingly conservative audiences he addressed. But they probably wouldn’t go over quite so well with the Golden State’s less-conservative electorate.
There is, however, one issue on which the majority of Californians would agree with Gingrich — the cost of gasoline.
In its latest California survey, released this week, AAA reported that the average statewide price of regular unleaded gas increased 15 cents a gallon in January, on top of an 11-cent increase in December. All told, California pump prices are 40 cents higher this week than they were a year earlier.
Gingrich promised that, if elected, he will drive down gas prices to the point where they are affordable not just to the state’s most affluent motorists, but also to the other 99 percent of us.
“We know how to get gasoline prices back down,” he said. “Produce more gas.”
He urged California motorists, reeling under the highest-priced gas in the continental United States, “Join us in a campaign to drill here, drill now, pay less. Let’s get back to $2 a gallon gasoline with Gingrich, not $5 a gallon gasoline with Obama.”
The reason, said Gingrich, pump prices are sky high here in California is not because of overwhelming demand. In fact, gasoline consumption actually has declined in recent years.
No, he said, it’s because energy policy in both Washington and Sacramento are ideologically driven. “Regulations and bureaucracy are designed,” said the GOP presidential hopeful, “to promote the agenda of radical environmentalists,” who view oil production as rape of Mother Earth.
That’s why production at California’s Monterey shale oil field, which holds 64 percent of the recoverable shale oil in the entire U.S., according to the Energy Information Administration, is hamstrung by lawsuits.
That’s why there hasn’t been one major new oil refinery built in the entire country in 35 years. So whenever one of Northern California’s five refineries, Southern California’s six refineries orCentral California’s two refineries goes offline, for maintenance, repair, or some other reason, it immediately causes a run up in gas prices in the affected region.
That’s the way both our president and our governor want it. Although neither will publicly admit it, the success of their respective energy programs is predicated on higher gas prices.
Indeed, both President Barack Obama and Gov. Jerry Brown want to steer car owners and buyers away from gasoline-fueled vehicles, which they perceive as despoiling the environment. They want all of us driving cars and SUVs powered by electricity, natural gas, algae or other “clean” fuels.
The problem has been that the clean fuels both Obama and Brown promote have been considerably more expensive than good old gasoline. So their administrations have used their power to tax and regulate to artificially inflate the cost of gasoline.
Gas Price Hike
Obama has been particularly successful, as pump prices have risen a staggering 83 percent since he first set foot in the Oval Office.
That’s good news for such California-based companies as Tesla and Fisker Automotive, both of which received hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies from the Obama administration to build electric cars. But that’s bad news for the state economy.
The California Energy Commission notes that oil-based fuels account for 96 percent of the state’s transportation needs. However, the state produces only 37 percent of the oil it uses.
SoCaliforniais a net importer of oil. We send more than $50 billion a year out of state to pay for gasoline, a huge transfer of wealth to oil-producing states and nations, a huge hit on the California economy.
Brown and the Democrat-controlled Legislature believe that California will eventually replace its oil imports with state-produced clean fuels. Well, maybe it will. But, in the meantime, California needs to ramp up in-state oil production and relieve motorists of the nation’s highest gas prices.
- Joseph Perkins