July 27, 2008


Oil May Become GOP's 2008 Issue: Cost of Gas Touches a Chord With Voters (Michael D. Shear and Paul Kane, 7/27/08, Washington Post)

Four-dollar-a-gallon gas has done something that few Republicans thought possible just a few months ago: given them hope.

United behind a renewed push for offshore oil drilling, Republican members of Congress and the party's presumptive presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, think they have found their best political issue of the 2008 campaign.

McCain strategists and GOP leaders on Capitol Hill say the issue, which polls suggest Americans favor by healthy margins, lets Republicans demonstrate their plans to address the anger over high gas prices as well as the broader economic distress that many voters feel.

Because most Democrats, including Sen. Barack Obama, are opposed to increased drilling, McCain and the GOP have already begun casting their rivals as unconcerned about gas prices and unwilling to wean the country from foreign oil.

Drilling for more oil isn't weaning, nor can the GOP count on keeping prices high enough for gas to be an issue.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 27, 2008 10:42 AM

OJ -

your favored solution, raising gas taxes to discourage consumption, would be political suicide for the GOP (as the Dems are starting to find out).

Yes we need to wean from oil. But this is at least a 10 year project. Even the most optimistic alternates (wind, solar, etc) will not be a meaningful source of energy for at least 10 years. And of course this does nothing to address the increased demand from the rest of the world.

In the short run you need to keep oil and gas prices down low enough so that they don't cripple the economy. During this time efforts on alternatives should be worked on.

2 other points - polls now show support for drilling in the 70% range - the GOP needs to understand that. 2) oil and gas prices have come down a bit lately but are still significantly higher than 2004. And don't forget people will start getting an idea of their winter heating costs in October/early November which will keep this issue alive.

Posted by: AWW at July 27, 2008 11:15 AM

Drilling is a canard. Gas taxes are a solution.

Posted by: oj at July 27, 2008 12:20 PM

Alternatives will dominate when (1) oil is no longer economically feasible or (2) the world's (read: USA) wealth grows to the point that developing the alternatives isn't an onerous expense. Forcing #1 with taxes just good way to make us poorer and get your ass fired (if you we're dumb enough to vote for it). Personally I'm betting on #2 - oil will fall from favor long before we run out.

Posted by: pjbbuzz [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 27, 2008 12:23 PM

Keep gas price high, economy tanks, McCain loses.

Posted by: ic at July 27, 2008 12:47 PM

Drilling is a method to increase supply. Preventing offshore drilling is a means of restricking supply.

I don't have the exact numbers but in most states 50 cents or more of a gallon of gas already goes to taxes - a bunch of money received by the government with only poorly maintained roads to show for it and little advancement on alternatives

PJ is right - we will probably develop alternates before the oil runs out.

IC is right - pushing the price higher (or not working to lower it) is a sure election loser. For McCain to have any chance of winning he will need to have himself and the GOP on the majority side of a few big issues (Iraq, oil prices, economy) to win.

Posted by: AWW at July 27, 2008 4:51 PM

That is what the congressional Dems want, though they wont admit it publicly.

Posted by: Gideon7 at July 27, 2008 4:55 PM

Um, perhaps of interest:

"[O]il is not a ‘fossil fuel’ but is a natural product of planet earth – the high-temperature, high-pressure continuous reaction between calcium carbonate and iron oxide – two of the most abundant compounds making up the earth’s crust. This continuous reaction occurs at a depth of approximately 100 km at a pressure of approximately 50,000 atmospheres (5 GPa) and a temperature of approximately 1500°C, and will continue more or less until the ‘death’ of planet earth in millions of years’ time. The high pressure, as well as centrifugal acceleration from the earth’s rotation, causes oil to continuously seep up along fissures in the earth’s crust into subterranean caverns, which we call oil fields. Oil is still being produced in great abundance, and is a sustainable resource – by the same definition that makes geothermal energy a sustainable resource. All we have to do is develop better geotechnical science to predict where it is and learn how to drill down deep enough to get to it. So far, the Russians have drilled to more than 13 km and found oil. In contrast, the deepest any Western oil company has drilled is around 4.5 km."


Posted by: Palmcroft at July 27, 2008 5:44 PM

Wait, You mean our school books are wrong? Oil's not made from dead dinosours/plants, buried miles below the surface?

'Cause you know, when I die, I expect, somehow, according to my school book, that my carcass will end up miles below the surface (fully intact without the insects, sun and coyotes taking their part), compressed between layers of rock, where after millions of years, I'll have turned into a quart of oil.

Or is it I decompose on the surface and my goo, somehow, migrates below ground without evaporating and turning to dust, to collect in a giant cavern, with everyone and everything elses'?

Thanks for posting the truth Palmcroft.

Posted by: KRS at July 27, 2008 6:01 PM

Exactly. Taxes are just a way to make gas less feasible and alternatives economical.

Posted by: oj at July 27, 2008 7:10 PM

McCain is a strong supporter of nuclear energy. Upgrade the grid and we can do electric cars too.

Drill like crazy for oil and gas, build nuke plants, build a new grid and were done. No silly scams like ethanol or the Pickens' welfare plan needed.

Posted by: Perry at July 27, 2008 10:29 PM

We have more oil reserves in 2008 than we had in 1978, which is sort of puzzling for a limited resource in decline.

Oil scarcity is a myth. I, too, would love to live in pedestrian-oriented cities. I spent eight years living in San Francisco without ever needing a car; it's a great city to walk, it has great local transportation with two kinds of underground, SF Muni and Bay Area Rapid Transit, and it's a blast to moped around-in as well. As a constantly redeveloped city, rather than a constant new-development city that metastisizes outward into infinity like my hometown of Phoenix, San Francisco has interesting new neighborhoods in every nook and valley. These are not like suburban neighborhoods that are all grass and nobody sees each other. These neighborhoods are constantly recirculating through pedestrian traffic to the neighborhood grocer, ice cream parlor, bar, coffe joint, etc. Each neighborhood has a sense of place filled with neighbors who can recognize each other, and it is just flat completely bitchin.

However, the question regarding oil is merely one of pollution controls, not supply. And I would not be so presumptuous as to impose my fantasies about more dream cities like SF on my fellow citizens through mega-taxes. I am a conservative, not a Third-Way church lady!

Posted by: Palmcroft at July 28, 2008 9:03 AM


FYI, Each of the above repeated posts was attempted and returned an IE error and/or a Moveable Type error. Then I waited a minute, refreshed, and the post was not present, so I reposted, which initiated another delightful error cascade.

Posted by: Palmcroft at July 28, 2008 11:14 AM

What posts?

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2008 3:49 PM

It would be interesting to postulate what would be happening with the price of oil if the US had 'grabbed' the Iraqi oil industry. What would the market (and OPEC) be doing if Iraq were pumping at even 70% capacity, with mostly new field equipment? It's a bit odd that the Democrats, who love imported oil best of all, didn't push to get oil from Iraq.

OJ might like to live in SF, too - except that he would be always be getting unwanted attention from lecherous men wanting a nice furry back to hug.

Posted by: ratbert at July 28, 2008 5:13 PM
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