March 30, 2004

Kerry & the SPR

Armed Liberal at Winds of Change points out a LA Times article about Kerry's thoughts on the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR):

Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry will announce a plan today in San Diego for reining in skyrocketing gas prices, saying President Bush has done nothing to stop increases that are hurting average Americans.

Kerry's campaign said Monday night that the candidate would use a rally at UC San Diego this morning to propose increasing pressure on OPEC to produce more crude oil and to suggest that the United States should temporarily let supplies in its Strategic Petroleum Reserve be depleted, making more gasoline available for consumers.

I have to agree with AL's comments, "Truly, Deeply, Stupid":

So, let's see. At a time when our relations with the Arab states are as precarious as they have ever been, when Venezuela (another major source of imported oil) is in turmoil, and when domestic production is starting a long decline, Kerry wants to drain the SPI - the stock that exists to cushion shocks caused by cutoffs of imports (hence the name Strategic) so Soccer Mom and Soccer Dad can drive their H2 Hummers and Hemi Rams and not feel it in the pocketbook.

Meanwhile, I posted below an explanation about why gas prices are so high – contra Kerry, NIMBY sentiments about refineries and byzantine environmental regulations have more to do with it than Halliburton.

Update: Virginia Postrel links to her 1996 editorial in Reason about the "gas crisis" of the mid-nineties – still relevant today.

Posted by richard at March 30, 2004 11:14 AM

Now I know you Texans like big cars, and I know that you, as a rule, are leery of regulation, but do you think the government might try to rein in the size of automotive vehicles?

A friend of Kate's parents was killed the other day when her reasonably-sized sedan collided with a gigantic pickup truck that was swerving to avoid an impediment in the road. Had she been in an SUV or a truck herself, she would have lived. Had she been in a Hummer, she might have been the one doing the killing, and the pickup truck driver's family would be kicking themselves for not plunking down for the bigger car.

Clearly there is a race to the bottom going on here, safety-wise — we're at the point now where disapproving looks follow parents who install their children in eco- and urban-friendly compact cars in the grocery store parking lot. One used to be able to say that SUVs aren't as safe because they're top-heavy. Then Hummer came along with a wheel base so wide it usurps half the passenger lanes. Oh, much better . . .

Scale-it-down regulations would reduce gas consumption, the damage done by accidents, and probably the number of accidents.

But for the fact that everyone so loves to be able to drive their son's entire softball team to the Dairy Queen — a right we must vigorously defend — this seems exactly the sort of phenomenon that is susceptible to, and warrants, regulation.

Or maybe I'm just a damned Commie.

Posted by: Brad A. at March 30, 2004 12:18 PM

If there's a reason Kerry has gone this direction, it's probably because of the fear-mongering Bush commercials alleging that he will institute a "gas tax."

This is not based on any professed plans, but instead on Kerry's historical record favoring taxes on gasoline.

And I suppose maybe Kerry is "soft on gas prices" — to the extent that he probably won't open up national park areas to drilling and invade other countries to keep them down.

If gas prices are indeed an issue that will turn voters, they deserve what they get — a President who will continue to paint this country as oil-obsessed and all the ecological and terrorist fallout that comes with him.

God forbid we might have to scale back on our resource use in this country. Putting aside the benefits to the environment and the figure of strength (and likability) that a less oil-dependent America would cut in the international community, it's just too dratted inconvenient to have to pay too much for gasoline.

Posted by: Brad A. at March 30, 2004 03:47 PM