CALL FOR FUEL PRICE INVESTIGATION BAD FOR COUNTRY

The US needs the oil and gas industry to be producing oil and natural gas, not answering mean-spirited questions from lawmakers who won't listen to the answers.

Calls this week from Democratic congressional leaders for another pointless investigation into oil prices conflict with the national interest.

The group includes familiar antagonists of the oil business: Sens. Tom Daschle (D-SD), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

They called for a House-Senate investigative committee with subpoena power to examine energy prices and determine whether oil companies are gouging consumers (OGJ Online, May 10).

There's no point in this duplicative nonsense.

The latest witch-hunt into energy prices ended only last February, when the Federal Trade Commission completed an investigation ordered by lawmakers and concluded that there had been no collusion.

And there has been no shortage of information about reasons for prices now to be high.

To be simple about it, refiners are making product as fast as they can and barely meeting demand. Product inventories, although lately beginning to recover, remain low.

And consumption of gasoline, distillate, and residual fuel continues to rise. The latter two products have been in elevated demand as substitutes for natural gas, which has been in short supply.

Under these conditions, prices rise.

Refusal by lawmakers to accept that explanation is simple obstinacy.

And it's motivated by low-grade politics. In the US, bad-mouthing oil companies is a cheap and easy way to curry approval from voters who know no better.

Outside of oil-producing areas, voters have no reason to know better.

Automatic Democratic indignation over fuel prices amounts to exploitation, pure and simple.

And in the middle of a very real crunch in energy supply, it's seriously in the way.

Energy executives have better things to do with their time than endure questions, certain to be abusive, of lawmakers who will never learn.

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