Lower Fuel Prices With Diverse Energy Portfolio

Posted December 5, 2008 at 11:44am

On Nov. 25, I filled up my Chrysler Town and Country minivan with gas. The cost to fill my van was $27.91.

Is this good or bad? It is hard to believe that this is a debating point in Washington, D.C., but it is. At the height of the gasoline price spike, I would have paid upward of $70. Since I paid less now, where does this $42.09 in savings go?

This savings alone made it possible for me to buy my son’s new karate uniform. The cost of his uniform is $51. The money spent at Premier Martial Arts Academy in Collinsville, Ill., goes where? Well, it goes to pay the rent, utilities and the salaries of numerous instructors. As these paychecks get cashed where does that money go? Most of that money will go to buy goods and services keeping other people employed and the economy humming along.

This is how the economic system works in a capitalistic society. The lower price for goods and services equates to more discretionary income, which allows the average citizen to buy more. Again, the more we buy, the more we employ.

As silly as this seems, there are those in Washington who believe high energy prices are a good thing. They want to make it difficult to explore, find, recover and refine U.S. crude oil into gasoline. They want to make it difficult to do the same with natural gas. There continues to be an attack on renewable fuels, and there has been an absolute blockade on the ability to use our more than 250 years of recoverable coal and turn it into liquid fuel.

As if the liberal Democratic assault on the economic theory of supply and demand is not damaging enough, they will move to increase the cost of energy for all.

The basic premise behind any climate change legislation is to monetize carbon use. Simply put, any climate change legislation is destined to raise the cost of fuel usage to push the public away from low-cost energy options. The deceitful cap-and-trade debate is just an additional tax on carbon fuel use.

And what is carbon fuel? Carbon fuel consists of the coal, natural gas and petroleum products that we use to generate more than 70 percent of our electricity and the oil that is the basis for every gallon of gasoline or diesel that we use to drive our vehicles. Even the least aggressive cap-and-trade proposal is projected to add 50 cents to a gallon of gas. The cost for home heating oil and natural gas will go up. Electricity costs will also rise.

The American public is genuinely pleased with the low fuel prices that we are experiencing. But we cannot, nor do we want to, pin our hope on low fuel prices based on a recessionary economy. When the economy recovers, you will see fuel prices returning to last summer’s highs.

So let’s go back to my minivan. Let’s add 50 cents to the $1.56 I paid to fill up my van. My fill up now would cost me $36.52. Is it better for the individual consumer to pay $27.91 to fill up their van or $36.52? What do you think will help the economy recover faster — gasoline at $1.56 or $2.06? Do you think $4 gas or $4.50 gas will best help the automobile industry?

I believe it is safe to say the Republicans in the House of Representatives will continue to push our all-American energy policy, which accepts the basic supply-and-demand theory and pushes for a diversified energy portfolio. This policy addresses our abundant resources of crude oil, coal, wind, solar, biomass, hydroelectric and nuclear power. All these energy resources should compete. They should compete not for government subsidies but for the ability to provide energy to the greatest number of consumers at the lowest cost.

Poor and rural Americans are harmed the greatest by high energy costs. This belief that high energy prices are good is a direct assault on them. Republicans are on the side of the American people in this debate. By continuing to push for lower energy costs, we return to one of our core values, which is the undying belief in the strength of the individual. When our citizens have more money in their pockets, they have a much greater ability to solve their own problems.

Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee.