With gas prices continuing to climb, there is an ever-increasing quest for ways to find a culprit that can carry the blame.
More and more, the finger pointing is focused on the overseas sale of US petroleum product—with the belief being that selling American resources to the highest bidder increases the price of gasoline at the pump. This idea has made strange bedfellows of Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA).
Addressing gas prices, O’Reilly claims: “They are much higher because the oil companies are shipping their products overseas.” Representative Markey (of the Waxman-Markey cap and trade fame) has “introduced legislation that would end the exportation of oil extracted from taxpayer-owned lands, and the exportation of refined fuels like gasoline produced from America’s oil.” Markey’s bill is called the “Keep America’s Oil Here Act.”
The idea has gained traction. It sounds good. Letters to the editor have popped up echoing the sentiments—with one even proposing “a massive letter-writing campaign to Congress insisting it creates a law that prevents the export of our gasoline and fuel oil.”
I was alerted to the trend by “Chip” who wrote the following in response to one of my columns: “So why is no one suggesting a tax on domestically produced oil, natural gas, or coal being taxed if sold overseas. With all of our natural energy resources, why let it count for so little if global demand will dictate that we pay the same general rates for oil, coal, and gas as anywhere else…”
Whether we have a bill like Markey’s that mandates that resources extracted from federal lands be sold in the US or a tax as Chip suggested, the idea that selling domestically produced resources overseas is driving up prices is being propagated from someone, somewhere and is accepted as fact.
With the Obama re-election campaign being staked on raising taxes, it may well be coming straight from the White House. Markey’s “Keep America’s Oil Here Act” tells us that the Democrats have bought into the theme of discouraging exports of US product—whether through regulation or tariff.
Wherever this “protectionism” idea is coming from, it is wrong on many counts. While keeping American oil here sounds like it would lower prices, it will not impact the price and could hurt the overall economy.