The hot humid heat of summer has finally arrived in Washington, and from the sound of my Democrat colleagues in the House and Senate, I think the heat may have gone to their heads.
Over the last few weeks, Nancy Pelosi and her Democrats have been making delirious attempts at creating new energy policies under the auspices of lowering gas prices and saving the environment. But their proposals will do absolutely nothing to improve our long-term energy problems. Most of their proposals don't even have anything to do with energy, but are simply meant to score political points and pit one special interest against another.
What Democrats refuse to recognize is that the cost of oil is set by the global market. The price of a barrel of oil involves a complex system of current worldwide demand, the security situation in oil-producing nations and the outlook for future supply and demand. Oil companies do not set their own prices. Moreover, the vast majority of their profits go directly back into finding additional resources and research. Democrats should stop targeting oil and gas companies and work with them if they really want to end our energy crisis.
High energy costs are driven by a number of factors, most importantly a huge increase in worldwide demand. We have in fact not built new power plants or refineries for decades, and our reluctance to open federal lands like the Alaskan Natural Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf to drilling are also the major contributors to our current energy crisis.
Yet I haven't seen any legislation that addresses these issues. In fact the pending appropriations work maintains the prohibitions on drilling off the coast and along the Outer Continental Shelf.
The sweeping proposals being mentioned will all require enormous federal funding, which Democrats want to come from the "evil" oil and natural gas companies. And any federal outlay will pale in comparison to the real cost as companies do their best to comply with new requirements and standards.
The costs of these "no energy" bills will ultimately be passed on to the American consumer. I have seen estimates that the Senate's energy proposal could result in gas prices of more than $6 a gallon in 2016, an increase of more than 100 percent. The typical Democrat response to a discussion of the high costs to consumers has become the talking point of the year, "The price is high, but not nearly as high as when we start paying for global warming."
I am not against doing something about global warming. The difference is that Republicans want to create climate change legislation that is based on sound science and does not harm our economy or way of life. With China poised to pass the United States in total CO2 emissions later this year and India not far behind, all the new regulations and requirements Democrats can think of will have little effect in reducing atmospheric CO2, nor will they do much to provide our nation with the energy security we need.
To solve our current energy nightmare, we simply cannot afford to rely on unproven science. Alternative energy sources are billions of dollars and years of research away from reducing our dependence on crude oil. A real energy plan needs to have three parts: invest in renewable energy sources, promote conservation and increase domestic production of oil and natural gas.
We cannot go back in time and change our past failures, but in looking forward, we must focus on all three steps if we are to solve our energy problems. Unfortunately, the Democrat plan fails in this regard. By increasing taxes on the oil and natural gas industry, they will force these companies to decrease their investment and ultimately reduce our supply even more. Hardworking Americans will ultimately pay for their shortsightedness.
Without some serious changes in how the new Democrat majority conducts this energy conversation, I fear nothing good will come from it. America will be unable to withstand failure on this issue. I encourage my colleagues to step back, consider the costs you place on the American consumer and recognize the need for sustainable and reliable energy in the not-so-distant future.
Mike Conaway, Texas Republican, is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.