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O'Reilly Factor: Gas and Heating Oil Going Up, American Quality of Life Going Down - No Mention of Price Caps

Reported by Marie Therese - August 30, 2005

On last night's The O'Reilly Factor [8/29/05], host Bill O'Reilly rattled off some disturbing statistics vis a vis the potential damage to America's oil industry brought on by Hurricane Katrina. However, instead of calling for price caps (like those enacted in Hawaii), Bill and his guest, Phil Flynn, conjured up the specter of skyrocketing energy prices.

Flynn, a Senior Energy Analyst at Alaron Trading Corporation, warned that the President will have to release some of the reserves not just to keep prices down but also to keep refineries running.

He noted that the storm-driven shutdown of Louisiana's offshore ports - collectively known as The Loop - is going to cause a real " tightness" in the supply of crude oil destined for the midwest, where it is "desperately needed to make gasoline."

FLYNN: "... I think the President is going to hear the call for help from the oil refiners and I think he'll loan some oil out from the reserve but we might not know exactly how much until we get a full impact of the damage."

Flynn went on to say that Gulf state power outages and damage to the rigs will seriously impact their refining capacity and reduce the amount of oil available for the midwest this winter.

O'Reilly pointed out that "the American consumer can't take much more at the pump ... people are gonna get bankrupted and they're gonna get angry..."

Flynn agreed, noting that "I'm afraid it's going to drive the prices [of heating oil] up maybe 30%. And, if you're at home right now, I'm giving you warning right now. It's gonna to be the most expensive winter we've ever had, so make whatever preparations you can today because I'm tellin' you right now this is not gonna be pretty this winter. ... Call your utilities. Find out if there's any ways [sic] you can lock in prices - a budget plan. See what you can do to make your home more energy-efficient. Obviously this is not gonna totally alleviate the problem but at least, if you're aware, you can start making plans now."

O'Reilly suggested people consider buying wood-burning stoves, install new windows, cork their old ones or install solar panels, all because he didn't want to see "the folks get hurt,"

O'REILLY: "... and I just see between OPEC, the greedy American oil companies ... they're gonna gouge ya' - and the situation of the natural disaster that we're looking at here, there's no way it turns around that quickly ... We have been way too dependent on oil - foreign oil and everything else - everybody knows that but our politicians have let us down ... If you were living in Illinois - you do - in Chicago - and you're just makin' sixty, seventy thousand a year, you would take aggressive action right this moment, alright, to do everything you could to keep your home - your home like a fortress so you don't waste any oil."

FLYNN: "Right. Absolutely. There's no doubt about it. And the amazing thing - up until now, even with these high prices, a lot of consumers have been consuming even more. I mean, this has not been a ba ..."

O'REILLY (under his breath): "I know ..."

FLYNN: "... but the key thing here is that this could be different. This could be the potential that pushes us over the edge, Bill, and we can't afford to lose these refineries for a long period of time because this could push us into an oil shock if these refineries are down for weeks or months."

O'REILLY: "Well, I have confidence that the authorities are gonna understand that and do everything humanly possible to get these refineries up and running ..."

COMMENT

Don't you just love it when two rich white men make suggestions to be implemented by those not blessed with oodles of cash?

They so very blithely and casually toss off energy-saving steps that consumers can take, as if the average American actually has the money to rush out and install double-glazed windows, wood-burning stoves and solar panels. I was amused about that O'Reilly targeted his energy-saving solutions to people making between sixty and seventy thousand dollars a year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American earns under $30,000 a year!

And what about the 40% of us who R-E-N-T? Currently there are no laws that I know of requiring landlords to upgrade the energy-efficiency of rental housing at no cost to the tenant!

Additionally, neither man mentioned the dreaded words "price caps." Yet, a year ago Hawaii enacted just such caps to prevent oil companies from gouging island residents by charging higher prices for gas than on the mainland.

Oil companies are making obscene profits these days.

Is it time for Congress to legislate price caps? Or a windfall profits tax?

What do you think?

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