OPEC Cuts Oil Production; America's Reliance on Foreign Oil Increased Nearly 50 Percent During Clinton-Gore Administration


Date: May 22, 2001

BACKGROUND: Kuwait - The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has agreed to cut production of oil by 1.5 to 2 million barrels per day to boost oil prices. Production cuts could be raised to 3 million barrels per day by spring, according to Iran's OPEC Governor Hussein Kazempour Ardibili. OPEC's declaration of intent to drive up the price of oil has come just days after the Department of energy issued its January 2001 Short-Term Energy Outlook, predicting a decline in oil prices.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: Today we are at the mercy of foreign oil producers because the outgoing Clinton-Gore administration failed to develop an effective energy policy or a believable foreign policy.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: Another surge in oil prices will threaten national security, our already shaky economy and cost American jobs. OPEC's plans to cut back oil production to raise prices are a matter for deep concern. The outgoing Clinton-Gore Administration has restricted American oil production for eight years. Furthermore, it has conducted itself abroad in such a way as to make many who should be our allies distrust us. It will take President Bush and Vice President Cheney time to repair the damage that has been done but they are up to the job.

DISCUSSION: We have proven that we can explore and drill for oil in an environmentally-responsible way - and we should be doing so in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and elsewhere. As Senator Frank Murkowski pointed out in a December 10 Washington Post op-ed piece, "Our only experiment with oil fields and caribou has taken place nearby [the refuge] on Alaska's North Slope in Prudhoe Bay. The Central Arctic caribou herd that inhabits part of Prudhoe Bay has grown from 6,000 in 1978 to 19,700 today."

(For photos of bear walking on the elevated Alaska pipeline to keep their feet warm as well as caribou migrating through oil fields, go to http://www.anwr.org and click on "photo gallery.")
To please their environmental extremist constituency, Clinton and Gore made vast areas of our country off-limits to drilling and exploration. Their policies caused our oil imports to increase by nearly 50 percent during their administration. The dependence on foreign oil is likely to become much more severe in coming years because industry experts have said that if we begin to explore and drill today, it could be as long as 10 years before new oil comes on line.  
Exploration and drilling should be begun at once on the 2,000 acre site in the 17.5 million acre ANWR. Also, consideration should be given to ending all national monument statuses as of a date certain, unless designations are approved by Congress. This would not be ending national monument status unilaterally, but placing the responsibility for such designations in the hands of the people's representatives and senators. An amendment to the Antiquities Act could also be introduced requiring congressional approval of future designations. In addition, it would be useful to institute a new rule-making procedure in the Forest Service to overturn Clinton's 11th hour Roadless Rule which has denied access to nearly 60 million acres of public land. 
For further information, the Department of Energy's contradictory Short-Term Energy Outlook can be found at http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/steo/pub/
Suggestion: It is time to stop being defensive about the "big oil" backgrounds of Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. Their experience is a plus. We finally have a President and Vice President with the expertise to deal with the country's energy crisis.


by Tom Randall, Director of Environmental & Regulatory Affairs, The National Center for Public Policy Research

Contact the author at: 773-857-5086 or TRandall@nationalcenter.org
The National Center for Public Policy Research, Chicago office
3712 North Broadway - PMB 279
Chicago, IL 60613