Bigger Problems in the Oil Industry
Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Sen. Byron L. Dorgan ("Tax those windfalls," Letters, Saturday) excoriates oil companies and calls for taxing their "windfall profits." He refers to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries "sitting around a table deciding how much oil to pull out of the sands," and then smugly accuses the oil companies of "using their profits to drill for oil on Wall Street." He calls for a tax on these windfall profits, ignoring some fundamental economic tenets such as the free market determining price based on supply and demand, and the total cost of doing business.
What chutzpah. The hypocrisy of the senator's statements belies the fact that he has been one of the leaders of the pack in the Senate that blocked the president's energy plan submitted four years ago. That plan called for construction of nuclear power plants and refineries, research in technology to replace fossil fuel, and, equally important, drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, off the coasts of California and Florida and in the Gulf of Mexico. Legislation was passed only a few months ago without any provision for extracting oil to alleviate our needs for Middle East oil despite a recent U.S. Geological Survey report estimating that ANWR alone might contain as much as 9 billion barrels of oil.
Oil companies and OPEC are benefiting from increased world demand and an actual or induced shortage of oil. But there are additional issues. Where does the senator think the money will come from to build nuclear power plants and refineries, to fight endless court battles against environmentalists blocking the construction of nuclear power plants and refineries and to protect against frivolous lawsuits during and after construction?
Instead of bemoaning the "windfall" profits of the companies, the senator needs to balance this issue with the law of economics and the expected costs of making us energy self-sufficient. We need legislation to curb the demands of environmentalists, to protect the energy industry from frivolous legal actions and to approve drilling for oil in ANWR and elsewhere. I call on the senator to take a leading role in making all this happen.
WARREN A. MANISON