With gas prices hovering around $4 a gallon, many New Englanders are rightfully asking why we’re paying so much at the pump. Many economists will point to price speculation and other factors such as political unrest and conflicts in oil producing nations. Oil industry reps have been claiming that high prices are due to all that clean air we use and all those required practices that help keep workers safe. They seem to think our leaders in congress should reduce environmental regulations put in place after the BP oil spill.
The fact of the matter is that domestic production has little to do with the price of oil, which is set on the world market. In fact last year US oil production reached its highest levels since 2003.
David Koch — a billionaire oilman widely known for funding campaigns to discredit climate science and oppose the construction of clean, renewable wind energy projects—has launched a new campaign through his group “Americans for Prosperity” to convince us that environmental regulations are to blame for high gas prices. Furthermore, they are looking to target political leaders who support tougher safety and environmental reviews for the oil industry that could prevent another catastrophic spill, and the clean energy sources that could break our addiction to their oil.
While most serious economists will tell you that the conflict in Libya, and soaring demand for gas in emerging economies such as China are the key factors driving energy prices up, most serious economists don’t have billions of dollars to spend on massive PR campaigns and secret political donations. As mentioned in this story the Koch brothers are betting that their ad campaigns and political donations will be enough to convince our leaders in congress to ignore real solutions and instead weaken environmental regulations.
Unfortunately, we’re seeing signs that their campaign is working. As I wrote last week, the US House of Representatives recently passed three bills that would have required massively expanded offshore drilling all around the country, including in New England. Thankfully, the Senate voted down a similar measure, but oil industry supporters have vowed to keep up the fight. Unfortunately when faced with a decision between big oil and New Englanders who depend on a healthy ocean, Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown sided with big oil. Click here to hear the radio ads CLF is running across the state, and here to write Senator Brown to urge him to stand with us in opposition to expanded drilling and for real solutions to high gas prices.