President Obama’s re-election campaign is up with its first round of TV ads in Nevada this week after being hammered by the American Energy Alliance on gas prices.
Anjeanette Damon has the scoop on the small ad buy in Reno and Las Vegas.
Energy will be one of the issues on which voters are bombarded on the airwaves from now ’til November.
But who is to blame for rising gas prices, really? And what can be done about it?
Currently, 75-80% of the cost of gasoline is driven by petroleum prices while the other 20-25% lies in refining and distribution. The latter can be influenced by U.S. policy to some degree. The former cannot, at least not much (and hardly at all in the short term) because the influencing factors are things outside our control such as OPEC supply decisions, tensions in the Middle East and seasonal variants.
Policy leverage may be possible in the long run as U.S. demand declines and supply increases, but our influence lies more on the demand side (23 percent of world total consumption) than the supply side (9 percent of world production). Policies that reduce demand (like pushing alternative fuels or the construction and use of mass transportation) or increase supply (drill, baby, drill) or some dual front (“all of the above”) effort are where we must head if we really want to influence oil prices in the long run.
Disagreements about these things tend to be more about degree than any all-or-nothing stance (except by the extremists on both ends, but who listens to them?)
Where policy makers seem to differ the most in the national argument on energy is re: the environmental consequences of energy production and use. Energy exploration and production generates high-paying employment but also generates environmental costs that are not always obvious in the price system.
Conservatives say the economic advantages of more/faster/better fossil fuel energy far outweigh concerns about carbon emissions or occasional oil spills, and anyhow India and China are building new coal-fired energy plants every 5 minutes so it’s futile to fight that battle even if one believed in it.
Liberals and greenies say it’s a moral imperative to wean the nation off carbon, even if it costs us all a little (or a lot) more.
And never the twain shall meet. Or so it seems right now. The energy ad wars shall wage on, in Nevada and nationally, and the best narrative will win in November while voters will no doubt continue to lose at the gas pump no matter who is president.