On Saturday’s Cashin’ In (4/28/12), the top story was an EPA official’s desire to “crucify oil companies” remark, sparking an investigation. Host Cheryl Casone – who almost surely knew that super-libertarian Jonathan Hoenig would provide an inflammatory, anti-EPA response, asked him, “Is this EPA attack on energy companies a big clue as to why gas prices are high now and they’re probably going to go up?”
Sure enough, Hoenig replied, “Well, that’s the EPA’s goal, Cheryl. That’s the green movement’s goal, is to raise gas prices, to make it harder and harder for man to actually use the earth for his benefit. I mean, their goal is really to hurt mankind… It’s essentially a crucification as the EPA official put it… It’s a shame, and it’s why gas prices are going up.”
That over-the-top comment elicited no challenge from host Casone. Instead, she turned to panelist John Layfield, “Do you think that that’s why gas prices are high because we have less oil production here in this country, and maybe this is the reason, this attitude.”
Layfield said that was “part of it.” But, he said, “The main reason gas prices are high is China went from 4 million barrels a day to 9 million… and we’re stuck at 86 million barrels total capacity… From 2010 til now, oil production is down.” He nevertheless went on to attack the Obama administration and the EPA for not ruling on fracking regulations.
Democrat Julian Epstein set the record straight. “Gas production and oil production is at a seven-year high right now. The Obama administration has licensed over 400 new permits for rigs. We have more rigs operating in the United States than anywhere else in the world right now. The Obama administration has opened up millions of acres for exploration. They’ve approved dozens of pipelines, including part of the Keystone Pipeline… Gas prices have gone down for three weeks in a row right now. And the fact that gas prices are going up… has nothing to do with the laws of supply and demand.” Epstein said the price rise was due to “the manipulation of markets.”
Tracy Byrnes said she wouldn’t go so far as to say the EPA “wants to destroy mankind.” But she did “know” that “all their attention is misguided.” She added, “Oil companies are not the reason for high gas prices. You know what the reason is? …We have no energy plan.”
Before long, the panel was laughing at a comparison of the Obama administration to a dead fish “stink(ing) from the head down.”
But, at the very least, Epstein had a point. Senator Bernie Sanders wrote on CNN.com:
Even those inside the oil industry have admitted that speculation is driving up the price of gasoline. The CEO of Exxon-Mobil, Rex Tillerson, told a Senate hearing last year that speculation was driving up the price of a barrel of oil by as much as 40%. The general counsel of Delta Airlines, Ben Hirst, and the experts at Goldman Sachs also said excessive speculation is causing oil prices to spike by up to 40%. Even Saudi Arabia, the largest exporter of oil in the world, told the Bush administration back in 2008, during the last major spike in oil prices, that speculation was responsible for about $40 of a barrel of oil.
But host Casone and the rest of the panel seemed more interested in attacking the Obama administration than in considering anything else.