The wrong approach to solving gas prices

Wisconsin Congressional Representative Ron Kind is not wrong in asking why gas prices are high now. Neither is Republican Party Third Congressional District Chairman Gary Arneson. However, Arneson suggests that Kind is wrong by looking at alternative energy sources. Furthermore, he blasts Kind for voting against drilling in the Arctic Circle for more oil. That is extremely short-sighted of Arneson.

Arneson’s argument has major holes. First, alternative energy sources for powering our homes affects fuel prices. By using less fuel in power plants, producers can provide more to motorists. We see prices change with the seasons because of production of facility (homes and businesses) heating fuel. That same fuel comes from crude oil.

Second, crude is a limited resource. By drilling for more of it, we’re only postponing the problem. Former President Jimmy Carter proposed looking for alternative fuel sources over two decades ago when people were literally sitting in line to put gas in their cars. Instead of becoming more independent of fuel, we Americans entered the 1980’s with a new “manifest destiny” mentality, thanks to President Carter’s successor killing the alternative energy program. We started buying vehicles (that is, sport utility vehicles) that consumed more gasoline, and when the industry responded with vehicles that guzzled more fuel, we bought more of them (like anyone would need a Mercedes-Benz or Cadillac SUV). We are only now reacting to the prices when we should have been actively looking for alternatives more than 20 years ago (and who says history does not repeat itself).

Third, our wasteful consumerism has driven the price of crude oil to skyrocket. The United States now relies on foreign manufacturing, and foreign manufacturing relies on fuel to power their plants. Because the finite supply continues to decrease and the demand across the planet continues to jump, economic supply and demand kick in and require costs to go up. As I stated, drilling for more oil is merely a temporary solution. Once all of the fuel is used up, what do we do then?

Finally, Arneson argues that wind power, solar energy, and ethanol cannot be quickly integrated into the economy, so we must remain dependent on gasoline. But he fails to mention that this technology is not new. Ethanol has been available for over two decades. Wind power was used in Europe in the form of windmills when the Native Americans were the only people on this continent. And solar collector technology continues to move forward as researchers develop more economical ways for it to be used in many parts of the western United States.

These arguments are not new. They’ve been around since the last fuel crisis. As a nation, though, we just decided to ignore it and focus on our own grandiose ambitions instead of acting as proper stewards of the world (since we have the power to). But any person with an ounce of intelligence and some awareness of recent events does not have to read this to know the facts… they merely need to look at the historical record to find that out.

Republican Party of the Third District of Wisconsin press release: Gas Price Solutions Elude Ron Kind