The true story behind high gas prices

fuel gauge

chego101 Flickr

Gas prices are still going up.  Across the country, there are calls for opening more of our pristine landscapes to drilling.  A study by the Associated Press shows that more drilling won’t lower prices, but that hasn’t stopped the politicians and pundits. They’re still clamoring to give more wild places to the oil industry – locking them away in 10-year leases that they may or may not use.

But if more drilling isn’t the answer, then what is? And why are they so high to begin with? 

A useful slideshow – with some videos included – from ClimateDesk.org sheds some light on the price at the pump. Check it out here.

One thing is clear – we can’t drill our way to low gasoline prices.  As the expert in the video pointed out, it wouldn’t make a difference.  So claims that we should lower the price at the pump by drilling in places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge ring hollow.  The fact that oil companies aren’t drilling most of the areas they’ve leased doesn’t help the case for “just drill more.”

So what can we do?  Well, one thing is to start thinking long-term.  That’s what the Senate tried to do before Easter, voting 51-47 to repeal more than $2 billion in tax breaks for the biggest 5 oil companies and putting the savings towards clean and renewable energy. Unfortunately, the vote needed 60 votes to beat a filibuster, and Big Oil’s allies came out in force to defend the tax breaks.

But the writing is on the wall.  When polled, a majority of Americans favor cutting oil industry tax breaks.  Many of these tax breaks have been around since the 1920’s, making them older than the internet, the space program, and the interstate highway system.

The tax breaks also aren’t necessary. The same top 5 oil companies that fought to save their $2 billion tax breaks earned more than $137 billion in profits last year.  The $2 billion in tax breaks is just a drop in the bucket compared to the billions they are earning from high prices at the pump.

It’s time to stop the handouts to the oil industry.  Whether it is pristine lands like the Arctic Refuge or tax breaks on tax day, it’s time to stop coddling the oil industry.  We need clean energy alternatives, not cheap rhetoric.

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