Friday, April 28, 2006

Ford Partly Right on Energy

Democratic senatorial candidate Harold Ford has issued a press release on the rise in gas prices that is partially right, but that partially misses the mark.

First the good part:

The long term answer is to invest in the clean development and safe use of bio-diesel, wind, solar, coal and nuclear energy to fuel the enormous energy appetite of our country. We need a new energy policy for America that rewards energy efficiency through innovation and conservation.

Ford's willingness to include coal and nuclear might even be considered courageous for a Democratic. More Americans are finally figuring out, as western Europeans did long ago, that nuclear power can be a safe and clean alternative fuel source.

However, Ford's suggestions offer no short term answers to the current problem. He is right in faulting the President for the lack of a meaningful energy policy, but one might add that we have not had a coherent energy policy in two decades or more. In addition, it should be said that Congress has been no help. The energy bill passed last year was a pork filled disaster.

Unfortunately, Ford also says this:

I believe a 30 day suspension of the 18.4 cent/gallon federal gasoline tax should be adopted. This temporary relief would provide much needed relief for the working man and woman in Memphis and our state....We can pay for this tax suspension with a temporary windfall tax on oil companies.

Well, if Mr. Ford is arguing that the oil companies have been profiting unduly at the public's expense, wouldn't he then think that they might just raise prices to cover the increased tax? Would that amount essentially to a transfer of monies from the federal government to the oil companies? And if they did not, would the lower price encourage more consumption of oil, thus aggravating the current supply problems?

Nonetheless, Ford deserves credit. He got the first part right.

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