Used Conservatively

Rep. Duncan has environmentalists all backward

Rep. Jimmy Duncan thinks environmentalists are driving up gas prices.

Most major environmental laws were passed 30 and 40 years ago. Since then, erosions have outpaced advances in water law and extinction prevention. Adequate funding for compliance has never existed, largely because fines are laughable and sometimes laughed off. Environmental laws face endless lawsuits, and the federal mining agency is rewriting laws in favor of industry.

Lawyers feast on the fight, so Democrats are happy; industry lobbyists gobble up judicial- and executive-branch appointments, leaving generous tips for their Republican servants. Both parties are happy letting environmental protections stagnate. It is absurd to think environmentalists can control international oil prices, not so absurd to think Dick Cheney already has a dozen promissory honoraria booked for his post-power talking tour.

Any honest observer can see where power resides, but Rep. Duncan thinks the Sierra Club is in cahoots with OPEC. Seriously. On the floor of the U.S. Congress on tax day, Duncan said “that’s something I thought for quite some time, that these OPEC countries and foreign energy producers I’m sure are contributing big money to these environmental groups, and they’re receiving huge multi-million dollar contributions that they were refusing to disclose the source of.”

He also said, “The environmental groups loudly complain about urban sprawl, yet their policies are leading to more urban sprawl as they continue to drive up these gas prices. ... They are elitist types, and perhaps they’re not concerned when their policies destroy jobs and drive up prices. . . They are really hurting the poor and the lower income and the working people in this country. . . Now some of these environmental groups, their policies are causing food prices to go up worldwide and, in many countries, leading to starvation.”

I have been embarrassed by Jimmy Duncan before. I am proud of him for being damn near the only Republican on the right side of invading Iraq. That vote earned him my vote recently, but now he has lost it again by attempting to pin rising prices on environmentalists.

In Duncan’s defense, he probably fails to see that the dollar is crashing. The strain of extravagant government spending, more extravagant under his party’s leadership as usual, is taking its toll. Our meddlesome military policy and decayed standards are devaluing our currency, and our military competes with us as an oil consumer. That is why prices are rising.

Duncan has been a strong advocate for limited government spending, but if he wants to achieve that goal, he needs to recognize where power actually lies. Coal, oil, and mining interests spend more on political influence than do public advocates. It took pharmaceutical interests years and billions lobbying doctors and politicians to get Viagra in sewage-treatment-plant outflows and blood-pressure medicine in our rivers.

Health impacts from chemical pollutants hit those who breathe 40 hours of factory air a week or live downwind of industrial plants harder than anyone. To truly defend the working class, Duncan needs to stop blaming environmentalists and start paying attention to them.

Environmentalists want us to use less oil by being more efficient. They want to drive twice as far on half the gas. Reduced demand means reduced prices. Less global industry means more local industry. Environmental policy aims to stabilize and sustain economies, lowering costs, and increasing job security. The only thing environmentalists want costing more is pollution, and they favor that because it allows market forces to work. 

Duncan has environmentalism exactly backwards, and the pivot of misunderstanding is plain. In his speech before Congress, he cited an oil-industry estimate of one trillion barrels of oil, a 38-year supply, left recoverable by conventional means. To Duncan, this is a reason to accelerate drilling. Environmentalists see a 38-year supply as a 500-year supply if used conservatively. Which way do you see it?

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Comments » 7

Rikki writes:

Ah, yes, refineries, another thing irrationally pinned on environmentalists. You're right that a lot of people do fantasize about living in NYC or Boston or Charleston or Portland or European cities or anywhere where you can function without needing a car. I guess we can chalk you up as one of those who would like the 38-year supply to get burned off in 20 years.

Rikki writes:

The only reason you brought up refineries is because you've been trained to think environmentalists prevent them from being built -- more idiocy that assumes power environmentalists clearly lack. Plus, more refineries mean more demand for oil and therefore higher prices.

Another couple refineries might mean a few thousand more jobs in some coastal city, but more efficient cars and homes and more livable cities mean a lower cost of living for everyone and new jobs everywhere in industries that can be sustained.

You're not interested in helping working people. The help you offer doesn't even make sense.

Rikki writes:

The reader can see that my claim is oil prices are rising because the dollar is declining in value and because our military is consuming so much oil. You haven't addressed either point, so readers might decide you are trying to change the subject.

I'm not inverting supply and demand. You are conflating oil prices with gas/diesel prices. Refineries sit in the middle, on the demand side of the crude oil equation and the supply side of the retail fuel equation. My solution is to reduce retail demand, which also reduces producer demand. You want to fiddle around in the middle, where any potential decrease in retail prices is offset by increases in crude oil prices. Again, you are the one not making sense.

There is no shortage of fuel in the U.S., so really it is your contention that we need more refineries that requires proof. If oil companies wanted to build more refineries, they have the power to streamroll any obstacles environmental laws or nimbys put in their way. They don't bother because there is already enough capacity to keep the retail pumps flowing.

Rikki writes:

Which proposed refinery did environmentalists stop, and how?

Urban_Renewal writes:

Look, a whole new comments section to troll.

lovejoyinc writes:

Rikki, you are either on another planet, or you are a complete moron. At the very least, you haven't done your research on this issue. First of all, Duncan was wrong on Iraq. He has lost my vote for that reason. He is, however, one of a growing number of voices that are beginning to point out how these environmental Marxists are willing to ignore the effect that the books of regulations on oil companies and all of the ethanol mandates that they have supported have caused the prices of both fuel and food to skyrocket in order to advance their " global warming " myth and the agenda attached to it. Are you aware that " big oil " pays 42% in federal taxes ? That doesn't include any state and local taxes they have to pay. They can't drill where they want to because the government says they can't. They are basically in the business of transporting imported oil ( mostly from Canada and Mexico )around the US. Just because the three remaining presidential candidates have all bought into this global warming nonsense doesn't mean that the rest of the country will accept it. Some of us want change in the right direction.

Rikki writes:

Digit, I'm not going to do your homework for you. If any of those Google hits actually answer the question, it's your job to figure out which. Meanwhile, by posting search results, you prove that you never had any evidence to support your claim. You've just been fed crap and swallowed it.

Lovejoy, gas prices have gone from around $1.50/gal to over $3.50/gal during Bush's rule. During that time, corporate taxes have stayed constant or been lowered, so they are obviously not to blame for rising prices. Likewise, environmental regulations have existed for more than three decades. If anything, they have been weakened under Bush.

What has changed during that time is that our military has diverted essentially the entire output of Kuwait for its own consumption in Iraq, and our deficit spending and declining reputation are weakening our dollar. It's not just oil prices that are climbing; it's everything, and that is a sure sign of a weakening currency.

This recession is the chickenhawks coming home to roost.

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