Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Two Perspectives on U.S. Energy Policy

I listened to two talk radio shows today. The first was that of Rush Limbaugh, the controversial right-wing host. And the second was that of Thom Hartmann, a progressive.

I was especially intrigued by their different points-of-view on energy policy, which they talked about today because President Barack Obama has released proposals on energy.

Rush said that Obama is against drilling for oil because he is anti-American and believes that the United States has exploited the world. Rush also said that Obama desires to shift America to green energy (i.e., replacing oil with algae). Rush referred to Energy Secretary Stephen Chu's remark that the Administration is okay with high gas prices (see here), as well as Obama's lament that the United States has two percent of the world's oil reserves yet consumes twenty percent of the world's oil. For Rush, the United States has much more oil than that, but it has been untapped due to Obama's anti-oil policies. Rush also expressed doubt that anything can replace oil, for the success of oil in the marketplace is an example of the best product winning. Moreover, Rush affirmed that the Keystone Pipeline (which Obama opposes) would create jobs in the United States.

Thom Hartmann's take on these issues was different. First of all, Hartmann denied that Obama has been anti-oil in his policies or has supported high gas prices. Hartmann played the part of Obama's speech in which Obama lamented that Americans have paid so much at the pump. Hartmann also stated that drilling for oil has dramatically increased during Obama's Presidency. Why, then, do we still have high gas prices? Hartmann says this is because oil companies have exported the surplus oil, in an attempt to keep gasoline prices in the United States high and thereby maintain their high profits. Regarding the Keystone pipeline, Hartmann stated that it would create jobs while it was being built, but afterwards those jobs would disappear. Hartmann also said that the pipeline essentially exports oil to another country, meaning that the oil is not even for people in the United States.

Who's right? I agree with Rush that Obama is trying to weed us off of oil, since Obama is a strong proponent of green energy. I am also interested in learning more about Secretary Chu's comments. But Hartmann makes sense when he says that the oil companies are trying to keep their prices high. That's why I doubt that giving tax breaks to oil companies will lift us out of our current state of high gas prices: we've been doing that, and it hasn't worked.

That's my opinion, and I'm far from being an expert. I was pleased to listen to two sides on this issue. What's your view?

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