Bush's crude: President's gas plan is a political ploy
Once an oil man, always an oil man. And once a con man, always a con man. No doubt, President Bush is showing his true colors with a four-prong strategy he erroneously claims will bring skyrocketing gasoline prices back to Earth.
None of his election-year proposals - building new refineries, opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil rigs, drilling in long-restricted areas of America's coastline and bypassing a ban on leasing federal land for oil shale development - will save you a nickel any time soon, if ever.
What the strategy would do, however, is devastate environmentally sensitive coastal areas, hasten the demise of threatened species like the polar bear, open pristine public lands for commercial exploitation, enrich the president's pals in the oil industry and extend our perilous dependence on carbon-based fossil fuels.
Refineries aren't built in a day. And the world's growing gluttony for crude, not the ability to process it, is the primary reason for soaring gas prices.
Offshore oil reserves should remain exactly that - reserves. They should not be viewed as an alternative to accelerated development of the sustainable energy sources that will provide power to future generations.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the home of polar bears and other species in decline, should remain exactly that - a wildlife refuge. The disruption and pollution resulting from rampant drilling would harass wildlife and degrade critical habitat.
And oil shale - rocky deposits that can be brewed into a synthetic crude - isn't the answer. It's environmentally destructive, a drain on dwindling water supplies and, with the current state of the technology, not commercially viable. The president's ludicrous claim that deposits in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming hold 800 billion barrels of "recoverable" oil is at best an attempt to con commodities traders.
Bush's push is also an attempt to con the public into prodding the Democratic-controlled Congress to embrace his fossil-fuel agenda, and, if Congress balks, lay the blame for high gas prices in the Democrats' laps.
Don't be fooled. A wise man would chart a course that weans us, not off foreign oil, but all oil. Wise voters will be looking for such a man in November.