Are Congressional Democrats correct in blaming Big Oil for rising oil prices?
A week after U.S. gasoline prices hit a near-record $3.05 a gallon, Democrats in Congress are promoting legislation taking aim at the big oil companies, although industry experts say that the efforts aren’t likely to have any effect.
Standing in front of an Exxon station near the Capitol on Wednesday with the posted $3.05-a-gallon price for unleaded regular in the background, half a dozen senators railed against the oil industry.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Congress would look into breaking up the giant companies. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) promoted her anti-price-gouging bill, which the Senate Commerce Committee adopted on Tuesday. And Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) backed a windfall profits tax, pointing to $440 billion in profits over the past six years for the nation’s five biggest oil companies.
Big Oil probably isn’t who Sen. Schumer thinks it is. The international oil companies—ExxonMobil, Shell, and others—aren’t where the real action is. The real action in the oil industry is with the national oil companies—Saudi Aramco, Chinese Cnooc, and others. These now dwarf domestic big oil. I’m not sure what Sen. Schumer is going to do about them.
According to the National Household Travel Survey the number of individual commutes to work has nearly doubled since 1969 from 27.8 billion trips to and from work to 51.3 billions trips in 2001 and the length and duration of the trips have increased as well.
As the percentage of the people who have jobs increases, so do the number of commutes. As the number and length of commutes rise, we use more oil. As we use more oil, the price goes up.
So, want to conserve? That’s how we used to refer to what’s now called reducing your carbon footprint. Live and shop closer to your work. There’s no real way to offset the emissions produced by commuting 10,000 or 20,000 miles a year to work.
And, if you decide that a longer commute is worth it if you can buy a cheaper or better house in a nicer neighborhood, look no farther than the mirror when you wonder why oil prices are going up and why the price increases are affecting you.