Jeanne Shaheen's actions don't back up her rhetoric on energy
New Hampshire Union Leader
Marshall CobleighJuly 3, 2008
AS IS USUAL with poll-driven politicians, Jeanne Shaheen is running television commercials and writing op-ed pieces addressing the dominant problem facing America -- skyrocketing gasoline prices -- but providing no real solutions. Even worse, anyone who knows her history also knows that during her entire career she has been a big part of the problem.
Long-time New Hampshire residents know that she and I were weekly regulars on Channel 9's "Close Up" program for 10 years (and I have many of the tapes of those programs). Those tapes show Shaheen fighting fiercely to hamstring nuclear licensing regulations. They also show her fighting against building an oil refinery in Rochester after the Durham location failed.
In today's world, China is scheduled to build 50 nuclear reactors by the year 2020; Russia is scheduled to build 26 nuclear reactors; and India is scheduled to build enough nuclear reactors to meet one fourth of the electricity needs of its one billion people.
Meanwhile, thanks to the opposition of Shaheen and others, the United States has not built a nuclear plant in 31 years. Europe gets 35 percent of its electricity from nuclear power: France gets 78 percent, Lithuania gets 70 percent, and Slovakia gets 56 percent.
It's the same story when it comes to building new, efficient refineries. Because Shaheen and others fought to hamstring refinery licensing, America last built a new refinery when Jerry Ford was President.
Jeanne Shaheen and the Democrats propose tighter regulation of illegal oil price manipulation, ending some speculation on oil futures, and imposing a windfall profits tax on oil companies. Doesn't Jeanne Shaheen remember that when Democratic President Jimmy Carter tried a windfall profits tax it was a miserable failure? Domestic oil production plunged by 795 million barrels. Carter and the Democrats predicted tax revenue from their windfall profits tax of $393 billion. It brought in $80 billion. The non-partisan Tax Foundation states that the oil industry since 1981 has had a cumulative $1.12 trillion in profits, but paid $1.65 trillion in taxes.
Shaheen, like a stopped clock, is often correct once or twice a day, and her call for an investigation of possible oil price manipulation makes some sense. However, her position on futures trading could penalize homeowners, farmers and all kinds of traders, as well as cripple our economy.
We do not need another Democrat in Washington. Lets look at the figures Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri put together. They clearly tell us who caused gasoline prices to skyrocket:
- Increased refinery capacity: 97 percent of House Republicans supported; 96 percent of Democrats opposed.
- Oil shale exploration: 90 percent of Republicans supported; 86 percent of Democrats opposed.
- Coal to liquid: 97 percent of Republicans supported; 78 percent of Democrats opposed.
- Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) exploration: 81 percent of Republicans supported; 83 percent of Democrats opposed.
- ANWR exploration: 91 percent of Republicans supported: 86 percent of Democrats opposed.
A few facts about these issues that Shaheen and the Democrats oppose:
ANWR is larger than the area of five states: Massachusetts, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey. The drilling would be done in an area one-sixth the size of Dulles Airport.
Drilling is now being done 60 miles off of Florida, but that drilling is being done by Cuba. Meanwhile, Congress has a moratorium on offshore drilling, and we are at the mercy of the Mideast sheiks.
Louisiana has 3,200 oil rigs offshore and a flourishing fishing industry.
Does this record make you want to send Jeanne Shaheen to the Senate so that she can make it tougher to drill and refine oil and make gasoline prices continue to rise?
Yes, Jeanne Shaheen always addresses the big issues that her political polls show the American people care about, but her voting record clearly shows that she is part of the problem and not part of the solution.
When Jeanne Shaheen started in politics, we imported one third of our oil. Now we import two-thirds of our oil. Since she and other Democrats started fighting for tougher regulations on energy production, America's domestic oil production has decreased from 9 billion barrels a day to 5 million barrels a day.
Jeanne Shaheen talks a good game about high gas prices and alternative energy sources. But her record shows clearly that she has done nothing constructive to solve the problem. Her television ad is a fraud. It's what you do, not what you say, that pays off at the gas pump.
Marshall Cobleigh is a former speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives and the former state energy chief.