As Congress last week headed into the Memorial Day recess, the Senate held yet another hearing to “get to the bottom of high energy prices.” One after another, Judiciary Committee members grilled oil company executives “on their roles” in the rising cost of fuel for their constituents. The Institute for Energy Research (IER) submitted the following ten questions for Judiciary Committee members who participated in the hearing:
1. Do you understand the fundamental economic principle of supply and demand for commodities pricing in the oil market?
2. Oil is a global commodity, bought and sold on the world market. Given that the nine largest private oil companies hold less than 5% of the entire world’s proven oil reserves, isn’t it more likely that the law of supply and demand is “manipulating” current prices than the five corporations represented at your witness table?
3. As a U.S. senator, you have control over oil production on U.S. federal government lands. Taxpayers own these lands and the energy that lies beneath them, but 97% of the federal OCS and 94% of onshore government lands are not being used. Are you willing to help increase the world’s supply of oil — and thus reduce the price of oil and gasoline — by allowing more U.S. energy to be produced from these lands?
4. The corporations represented at the hearing today produce roughly two million barrels of oil per day in America, for American consumers, with an American workforce. How many barrels of American oil, based on Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates, have each of you voted to produce?
5. How often have each of you voted against supplying American consumers with 10.4 billion barrels of oil from ANWR, 85 billion barrels of oil from the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), and 2 trillion barrels of oil shale in the West?
6. For those of you who have voted to restrict American energy supplies, especially during periods of increased demand, how are your actions any different than those that you have frequently ascribed to OPEC?
7. The sum of the American resources noted in question five is 2.095 trillion barrels of oil. The total proven oil reserves in the entire world is 1.3 trillion barrels. Which number is bigger?
8. As the gap between supply and demand expands, oil prices increase, and oil company profits rise. What’s the best way for oil company executives to send the entire U.S. Congress a “thank you” note for keeping energy supplies down and corporate profits up?
9. At today’s prices, the United States is sending $1.5 billion overseas — per day — to import oil from foreign countries. Do you think it would be a good idea to spend at least a fraction of that sum producing oil here in the United States?
10. When was the last time you filled up your own gas tank?