Energy Schizophrenia

One problem with trying to engage Democrats on energy issues is that they are irremediably schizophrenic. In 2006, when gas prices were substantially lower than they are now, Democrats ran on a platform of reducing the price of gas. On April 19, 2006 the then minority leader Democrat Nancy Pelosi said, “Democrats have a plan to lower gas prices…join Democrats who are working to lower gas prices now.”

Whatever approach they have implemented certainly has not been successful in reducing gas prices. Indeed, aided and abetted by Republicans, the government’s mandates for use of ethanol have managed to be a failure in lowering gas prices but wildly successful in increasing the income for corporate farmers and food prices.

Regardless of the success or failure of the Democratic plan for reducing gas prices and for whatever reasons, it was clear in 2006 that lower gas prices was a prominent Democratic goal. On the other hand, the presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama now seems somewhat sympathetic to high gas prices, suggesting that it will push Americans toward the use of hybrids.

But how does reducing gas prices square with other goals of the Left: decreasing in carbon dioxide emissions, increasing the use of public transportation, and reversing suburban sprawl?  Accomplishing these goals will require pain and increased gas prices are the quickest and most direct way of applying the necessary discipline. If by some miracle, all the cars in the country got twice the mileage, the pain of oil prices would be reduced by a factor of two and Americans would likely drive more than they do now. However, the goals of greater use of public transportation or less suburban sprawl will be thwarted.

Thus lies the current contradiction of Democratic energy policies. They are anti-oil, but wish to make gas cheaper. They rail against the middle-class suburban sprawl, but object to the pain in gas prices that mitigates sprawl. Like a dog trapped in a yard, the are really only for action, action, action, direction is unimportant.

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