Shall We Help Big Oil Get Bigger?

Over the past seven years, crude oil prices have exploded from around $30 a barrel to nearly $100. With prices that high, you don’t need to give an oil company executive much financial incentive to drill for more fossil fuel.

Yet clean energy legislation is stalled in Congress because of opposition to curtailing oil and gas subsidies and investing the proceeds in renewable fuels. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley (Iowa), with a straight face, called on Democrats to be “reasonable” and support a package that “at least is not destructive to the incentives we need to produce more oil.”

You may recall that President George W. Bush said it is a “serious problem” that “America is addicted to oil.” But he goes farther than Grassley, criticizing proposals to “raise taxes” on oil companies, preferring to leave the current tax breaks untouched and keep the oil needle in America’s arm.

This is not a debate between activist government and free markets. The oil industry that conservatives seek to protect is not thriving in a free market. It’s propped up by our government. That’s not what American voters want in their energy policy, and they tried to change it in the last election.


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