Stories and blogs about who to blame for the high price of gasoline have become like the game of who should take credit for the death of Osama bin Laden. Was it the Bush administration? Obama? The guy with the gun? Just who should take credit for the death of America’s most wanted?
But one thing’s for certain: While pundits will attempt to credit the OBL assassination to whatever suits their camp, whoever gets the finger pointed at them for the high price of gas is sure to become a political whipping post for the next two years.
This last week alone a number of stories and op-eds have emerged looking to place blame on a single entity or ideology for the rising prices, which are up $1.065 over this time last year.
Jim DiPeso over at the Daily Green blames the Republicans and the Democrats. So pretty much everyone.
William S. Becker, an energy and climate expert writing at HuffPo, says the answer to who or what is to blame for the prices is one of the most serious issues of the 2012 presidential campaign. He cites a Washington Post/ABC poll in which 60 percent of Independents said they “are concerned enough about gas prices to say that they definitely will not back Obama for reelection.” But he posits that this sort of political punditry is misleading and antithetical to solutions. He asks, How can the members of Congress who condemn federal budget deficits support subsidies the oil industry doesn’t need?
Of course, much of the drum beating from the right continues to place the blame on regulations and the Environmental Protection Agency. The argument is that it isn’t the federal subsidies being thrust on to the consumer, but the regulations on refineries that are causing rising prices at the pump.
But Brendan Smith, co-founder of the Labor Network for Sustainability, says that the right is ignoring its constituents and a shifting belief of union organizers by placing the blame on the EPA’s shoulders.
He writes on HuffPo:
At the start of 2011, as the energy corporations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Tea Party launched their assault on environmental protection and the EPA, it looked like public opinion and organized labor might just be swept along. Instead, much of the public and the labor movement have rallied in support of EPA and environmental regulation.
Smith notes that in March, the day after a Wall Street Journal article claimed unions were tangling with the EPA over regulations, the BlueGreen Alliance, a union-environmental coalition backed by 10 major unions, issued statement in support of the EPA’s regulations. What’s more, the UAW legislative director issued its own statement:
The members of the UAW are also citizens who are deeply affected by the environment in which they live and raise their families. They are concerned about the effects of human-induced climate change for themselves and for future generations. The benefits to human health and welfare flowing from the regulation of greenhouse gasses under the Clean Air Act are substantial and have decided positive economic effects.
A survey of the presidential battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan conducted by Hart Research Associates and released March 28 found that almost two-thirds of voters there want the EPA to set greenhouse gas standards for industrial facilities. According to a memo accompanying the poll, “By large margins, voters of all political parties trust the EPA more than they trust Congress. Democrats trust the EPA over Congress by 77 percent to 11 percent, independent voters do so by 63 percent to 12 percent, and Republicans by 48 percent to 28 percent.” Voters oppose Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s proposal to block EPA regulation of greenhouse gasses for two years by exactly two-to-one.
So is the blame game, which seems to be the the current machinations for the upcoming elections, entirely missing the point and not connecting with voters?
Becker sums it up thusly:
If gasoline prices become a huge issue in the 2011 elections, we will see who favors the blame game over solutions and who represents the welfare of oil companies over the welfare of the American people. I can see the first bumper sticker now: John Boehner. R-Ohio or R-Oil?
Meanwhile, Exxon announced last week that its profits were up 69 percent from last year, while Shell reported its profits rose 30 percent.
Robert Rapier over at R-Squared Energy blog nicely breaks down where the profits come from: about 1.8 cents per gallon from subsidies. So who’s to blame? We are, he says.
But there is a way that every individual can stop feeding ExxonMobil’s enormous profits. Stop buying their product. The reason they are so profitable is simply that the public keeps buying their product even as the price has doubled over the past few years.
I understand that we are all dependent to one extent or another on oil, but most people use more of that product than we need to. Because of changes I have made in my own life, even though Big Oil is making record profits, they are profiting less from me than they were a decade ago…But if you won’t make any changes in your life, then you can expect to continue transferring an ever increasing portion of your budget to Big Oil’s coffers.
I wonder what candidate will step up to the plate and blame our over-dependency on oil for the rising prices and suggest we stop using it? Today, my money is on no one.