NEWS BLOG (WSAU) You see what’s happening to gas prices. In Central Wisconsin we’ve gone from $3.50 to $4.00 in two weeks.
In some ways this is a completely legitimate increase. There are supply disruptions. Basic economics tells us where supply and demand are out of balance, prices will move up or down. That’s what we’re seeing now. When supply and demand are brought back into balance, prices should go back to where they were before.
But… there’s the problem of the federal government and Enbridge.
The Feds say Enbridge’s pipelines have a lousy safety record. I have no expertice whatsoever in this area. Who knows? The evidence is a pipeline burst in Michigan that spilled into the Kalamazoo River, and now a leak in Wisconsin that’s caused some groundwater contamination. We don’t know of smaller pipeline problems that didn’t make the news.
Enbridge says repairs in Wisconsin were made last week, and their Chicago to Superior pipeline is ready to resume operations. But now the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation are withholding their final approvals. Without them, the pipeline remains shut down. The federal regulators want the entire pipeline rebuilt. And without that commitment from Enbridge, we’re told the OK to resume pumping oil won’t be coming.
The public will agree that leaking oil pipelines aren’t acceptable. The public also objects high gas prices, particularly if federal regulators are keeping them high. And you and I simply don’t have enough information to tell if the Feds are overplaying their hand, or if there are legitimate safety and environmental concerns beyond the repairs that have already been made.
When I consider the Obama Administration’s record – opposition to drilling in Anwar, a shutdown of all Gulf Coast drilling, blocking the Keystone Pipeline, attempts to repeal tax credits for oil exploration – the posture is clear. Oil is bad, and is to be fought where possible. That’s ideology. And it’s a political choice. Whether our nation will continue to be an oil (and coal) based energy-economy or if we’ll transition to more expensive options because they’re better for us down the road is one of the issues all of us will weigh in the November elections. In the meantime, Wisconsin drivers are caught between a big oil company and the federal government. And we’re getting fleeced every time we fuel up. Will someone please remind Washington that we’re a battleground state – and voters don’t like $4 gas.