Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Bill Richardson: Protecting Consumers from Big Oil

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

Yesterday, in the Des Moines Register, Governor Richardson made the case for using the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to protect customers from volatility in the oil market.

First the Governor said we should tap the reserve, specifically with regard to the pipeline shutdown that BP announced last week, and which would appear to be more of a burden to those of us in the Pacific Northwest than anyone else. This would maintain the supply and effectively keep costs at the same rate they were at before the shutdown. It was Richardson's next point that drove it all home:
Second, I would tap the reserve with a significant twist. The federal government should negotiate an oil exchange with BP to repay the reserve with interest for every barrel of oil withdrawn during the pipeline shutdown.

This oil "loan" would keep the marketplace whole for now, with repayment plus interest from BP in the form of a significantly greater quantity of oil back into the reserve at a later date. This would calm markets, stabilize prices and have minimal impact on overall levels of oil in the reserve. Also, in accepting the government's terms of such a loan, BP would be demonstrating that it is trying to be a good corporate citizen.
Imagine that, an oil company trying to be a good corporate citizen. Why, when Big Oil is reaping record profits, should the American people have to tolerate a shutdown so that prices can get jacked up to help pay for repairs that BP is making to its pipeline? BP can afford the repairs, and BP can afford Richardson's proposal.

In the end, Governor Richardson shows his comprehensive grasp of energy policy when he says:
In the longer term, our policies and technology investments should acknowledge that we depend on oil at our peril. Breaking our oil addiction will require a major, "man-on-the-moon" type of effort focused on new technologies and renewable energy, including Iowa-grown corn-based ethanol. Long-term energy security will be won only when we diversify our portfolio and keep our petro dollars at home.

In the short term, our obligation is to working families who struggle to make ends meet. This obligation should be met through leadership, recognition of the new realities of the global oil marketplace, a willingness to use the petroleum reserve as a more effective tool in that marketplace - and the courage to demand responsibility and accountability from corporate America.
This is leadership. This is what a President is supposed to look like.

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