National energy policy should be implemented

Published 9:19 am Wednesday, September 27, 2000

By By Sonny Callahan
U.S. Representative
With cold weather just around the corner, pressure is mounting on the Clinton-Gore administration for their failure to implement a national energy policy to deal with the soaring cost of fuel.
At gas pumps throughout the country, prices are up more than 50 percent in the past 18 months alone. 
Perhaps of greater concern, however, is the fact that with winter just around the corner consumers can expect markedly higher heating bills throughout the country. Home heating oil prices are at a ten-year high and natural gas prices are at an all-time high as well.
While this may not hit as hard in south Alabama as it will in other parts of the country, it is still a disturbing trend that should be of concern to all Americans.
Unfortunately, instead of heeding the warning signs which have been present for months, the administration chose to turn the other way with regard to our dependence on foreign oil by continuing to allow  our domestic production to decrease.  
For his part, Vice President Gore's latest response has been to tap the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve.  
Late last week, Mr. Gore proposed removing oil in five million barrel increments in an effort to cut oil prices.  Currently, the US consumes some 19 million barrels a day.  
This was the latest in many changes in position that the vice president has made, inasmuch as earlier this year he opposed tapping the Strategic Reserve.
The reserve was created in response to the oil embargo of the early 1970s to protect U.S. national security in the event of interruptions in supply.  It has been tapped only once before, during the Persian Gulf War.
While the initial reaction to opening up the strategic reserve was positive, most analysts predict it will have as much long-term effect as putting a Band-Aid on a bleeding artery.
Mr. Gore's rival for the presidency, Texas Governor George W. Bush, said "The Strategic Reserve is an insurance policy meant for a sudden disruption of our energy supply or for war."  
He went on to note that it was not created as a vehicle "to drive down oil prices right before an election.  It should not be used for short-term political gain at the cost of long-term national security."
Whatever happens, one thing appears likely.  With some parts of the country already dealing with snowdrifts and winter-like temperatures, fuel prices are likely going to be higher than we've seen in more than a decade.
Whether this triggers a recession, as some economists are now predicting, obviously remains to be seen.  But it does raise a legitimate question: who has been asleep at the wheel of our national energy policies the past year and a half, or more appropriately, over the past eight years?
End to Whitewater
Like most Americans, I, for one, was glad to hear word that the Whitewater investigation was officially closed last week.  Frankly, I was growing tired of Whitewater.   
Independent Counsel Robert Ray determined that the evidence was insufficient to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that either President Clinton or Mrs. Clinton knowingly participated in any criminal conduct.
However, as an editorial in the Washington Times noted last week, not indicting someone is not the same as finding them "not guilty" or "innocent." It simply means the independent counsel in this case determined there isn't a strong legal case to present to a grand jury.
Defenders of the president and first lady were quick to crow that this has been a right-wing conspiracy/political witch-hunt all along, which has ultimately cost taxpayers millions of dollars and came up empty handed.
The fact remains, however, that the investigation led to 14 convictions or guilty pleas, including that of the sitting governor of Arkansas.  Also convicted of crimes in connection to Whitewater were Whitewater Development executives (and Clinton business partners) Jim and Susan McDougal, and onetime Associate Attorney General Webster L. Hubbell, a law partner of Mrs. Clinton's at Little Rock's Rose Law Firm.
While there will always be questions left unanswered regarding the Whitewater mystery, it appears that at least now the puzzle will be left to someone else to piece together.  More importantly, the taxpayers will no longer be footing this bill.
Keep in mind it was a Democrat Congress and a Democrat Justice Department that officially set into motion the many Whitewater investigations.
Someone should remind the president that with friends like that, who needs enemies? 
Until next week, take care and God Bless.

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