Focus Point - Why the Gas LinesCommentary by Pete du Pont
July 25, 2000
I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Filled up at the pump lately? Wonder why it's so expensive?
Well, first, OPEC's price has gone up, American gas consumption has gone up, and crude oil production in America has gone down -- thanks in part to the fact that arctic slope drilling, where there are huge reserves, has been forbidden since 1980.
After that, the wounds are even more self-inflicted. Years ago, california mandated a cleaner-burning gasoline containing the chemical MTBE. That still causes supply problems there. Then the farm states, always on the lookout for more and higher subsidies, decided that Ethanol, made from local corn, should replace MTBE. The problem is that using Ethanol requires a different process; thus, for example, gasoline produced in Texas cannot be used in Illinois. Ethanol-augmented gas is more Expensive to make and transport as well.
There's a way out of this: it's called drilling -- for more domestic oil. Then, stop micro-managing the gasoline mix from one part of the country to another, it's politics, not economics, that are keeping prices up.
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, summer reading.