Sunday, July 27, 2008

McCain's Drilling Talk Makes Big Oil Give

They like it so much that last month, they donated to his campaign.
Swamp: But it has caught on with the oil industry, whose executives contributed $1.1 million to McCain's presidential campaign last month, the Washington Post reports today on an independent watchdog group's study of the McCain campaign's fundraising.

Three quarters of McCain's oil haul followed the senior senator from Arizona's call for an end to the long-standing congressional moratorium on off-shore oil-drilling, the Post notes. And that $1.1 million take from Big Oil executives in June outstrips the industry's giving before that: $208,000 in May, $283,000 in April, $116,000 in March, by the Post's count.

Does anyone really believe that McCain wants drilling because Americans are suffering hardships? He hails from the Bush Cheney administration, the presidency of oil.
WaPo: McCain said the policy reversal came as a response to rising voter anger over soaring energy prices. At the time, about three-quarters of voters responding to a Washington Post-ABC News poll said prices at the pump were causing them financial hardship, the highest in surveys this decade.

Opening vast stretches of the country's coastline to oil exploration would help America eliminate its dependence on foreign oil, McCain said.

"We have untapped oil reserves of at least 21 billion barrels in the United States. But a broad federal moratorium stands in the way of energy exploration and production," he said. "It is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions."

And some are saying McCain shaped his energy policy so he could get more money from the oil companies.
"The timing was significant," said David Donnelly, the national campaigns director of the Public Campaign Action Fund, a nonpartisan campaign finance reform group that conducted the analysis of McCain's oil industry contributions. "This is a case study of how a candidate can change a policy position in the interest of raising money."

Brian Rogers, a McCain campaign spokesman, said he considers any suggestion that McCain weighed fundraising into his calculation on drilling policy "completely absurd." Rogers noted that oil and gas money in June still accounted for a very small fraction of the $48 million raised by the campaign and by the Republican National Committee through its Victory Fund.

"John McCain takes positions because he thinks it's the right thing to do for America," Rogers said. "He has a long track record of doing that. And he's often made decisions that hurt with his fundraising base."

Economists have already debunked offshore oil drilling as a solution to foreign oil dependence. Even California Arnold Schwarzenegger, a supporter of McCain, said McCain is blowing smoke. The only solution is a longterm one that is made up of wind, solar and other kinds of renewable energy. In the meantime, we have to cut back on our use of oil. We have to sacrifice. 

Why we won't have low gas prices ever again, no matter what John McCain tells you: This time it's different.
Earlier oil shocks have had obvious causes. In October 1973, OPEC raised prices and declared an oil embargo against the United States and other countries that had supported Israel in its war earlier that month against its Arab neighbors. The embargo ended in March 1974, but pricing power had shifted from the oil companies to the producing countries. In 1979, prices soared again after the Iranian Revolution curtailed output and consumers and oil companies went on a spree of panic buying.

Now, however, there is no one culprit and no single international crisis to blame. Instead, world demand has been increasing faster than supply, steadily squeezing oil markets.

This in turn has signaled to investors that prices are inevitably heading higher. Financial players, such as Wall Street banks and hedge funds, have bet just that, investing tens of billions of dollars in oil futures. Critics on Capitol Hill and elsewhere say this speculation has turbo-charged the market, helping lift prices even more.
Read the whole thing -- it's a great explainer, what we need more of.