This weekend marks the start of the summer driving season (although one could be forgiven for not noticing, given recent weather conditions). Crude oil prices spiked to more than $135 per barrel on Wednesday and regular grade gasoline is touching $4 per gallon in many parts of the country. One commodity not in scarce supply, though, is analysis of the reasons for the dramatic price rises seen in recent weeks – see here and here (subscription req'd) – and their ramifications not only for summer travel, but for the economy at large.
Meanwhile, in what has become a regular Washington ritual, a group of big oil execs were summoned to Capitol Hill this week for yet another verbal flogging. This piece points out the absurdity of such grandstanding, citing Congress' "refusal to let oil companies drill on federal lands…," which cuts "… sharply into our supply of crude as world demand grows and prices soar both here and abroad." Indeed, provisions for lifting drilling moratoria on some restricted lands were proposed for each of the last two energy bills, but were ultimately rejected.
Fostering increased domestic oil production is certainly not the magic bullet that will satisfy all of our energy needs now or in the future. Still, how about this idea for a moratorium: no more Congressional badgering of oil companies about high prices until our representatives are willing to own up to their role in formulating policies that lead to elevated energy costs.