Friday, July 25, 2008

from the press conference on gas prices

Here's the video from Indiana-9...

and here is Daniel Suddeath's article in the Jeff/NA News-Tribune...

Excerpts from the article:

When Eric Schansberg decided to run for Indiana’s 9th District U.S. Congress seat, he had “no idea” gas prices would be such a hot topic....

The Libertarian candidate said as gas prices increased substantially in recent months, so did the interest level of Indiana residents.

“The price of gas has had a profound impact on the working poor,” he said. “Instead of political posturing and economic ignorance, we need public policies that will increase the supply of oil and strengthen the dollar as soon as possible.”

Schansberg has attempted to engage his competitors — Republican Mike Sodrel and incumbent Democrat Baron Hill — to a debate on gas prices, citing Hill’s insistence on a debate with Sodrel over fuel in 2006.

The debate hasn’t been agreed upon, but the three candidates are all focusing on gasoline.

Hill has introduced legislation recently in the House of Representatives that is aimed at neutralizing oil speculators.

“Many economists have estimated that excessive speculation is adding between $20 to $50 to the price of a barrel of oil,” Hill stated in a news release.

“We need to close loopholes and help reestablish oversight of the commodities markets to ensure that gas prices truly reflect the laws of supply and demand.”

Sodrel has taken his fight to a state at the center of the argument over where to turn for the future of energy.

He is due back in Southern Indiana today after a tour of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, in Alaska along with other congressional candidates.

“In the short term, we must become independent of foreign sources of traditional energy. In the long term, we need to become independent of traditional energy altogether,” Sodrel stated in a news release.

Sodrel will hold a press conference today at the Louisville International Airport to discuss his trip to ANWR.

He said he was going to Alaska to look for new sources of traditional energy to keep the nation afloat until a long-term strategy can be implemented.

That could mean domestic drilling, something Sodrel and Schansberg support in ANWR and along the Gulf Coast.

“Someone will drill off the Gulf Coast — it might as well be us,” Schansberg said.

Hill said that “contrary to recent sound bites, this Democratic Congress is supportive of drilling.”

Hill was pleased with this week’s announcement by the Bureau of Land Management to hold a major lease sale in the National Petroleum Reserve, or NPR-A, in Alaska this fall.

“The timing of the BLM’s decision could not be any better as (Thursday), the House is scheduled to consider the DRILL Act,” Hill said. “This bill calls on the BLM to speed the development of oil and gas resources in the NPR-A.”

Estimates are that the NPR-A could hold roughly 8.4 billion barrels of recoverable crude, according to Hill. He added the Alaska natural gas pipeline could create up to 100,000 jobs.

The bill was considered by the House but not has yet to receive a vote.

If passed, the measure would speed development of the NPR-A, reinstate a ban on the foreign export of Alaskan oil and require oil producers to drill on leases they already have, or relinquish them so that another company can produce oil there.

“We need to increase domestic oil production not only for short-term relief, but as part of a long-term strategy to decrease our dependence on foreign oil,” Hill said.

Schansberg, an economist at Indiana University Southeast, suggests the main driving force for high gas prices may have little to do with drilling or speculation.

“The pursuit of spending and debt has weakened the dollar by about 40 percent over the past six years,” he said. “So, 40 percent of this problem has been caused by a devalued dollar.”

Schansberg — who refers to himself as the only fiscal conservative in the race — said getting a control on spending could have a great impact on gas prices.

Schansberg said that like Hill, he believes in reducing the size of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, though he thinks it will only result in a modest impact on market supply and price.

Schansberg believes an investigation into the high prices of Louisville gas being launched by Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear will not yield the results residents are hoping for.

“The answer is almost certainly (Environmental Protection Agency) regulations, which dictate the sale and use of certain types of gasoline,” Schansberg said, adding the type of gas sold in Louisville is different from most other states.

“This results in otherwise surprising price differentials between counties and greater price fluctuations in these regulated markets.”

Sodrel is also not sold that investigation will lead to a solution.

“You can’t develop energy with lawsuits. We can’t create energy by raising taxes. Investigation and regulation haven’t lowered our cost at the gas pump,” he said.

As the candidates vow to keep gas prices down, they are trying to get their campaign cash up.