Thursday, April 28, 2011

Reducing Energy Prices The Blumenthal Way

What do you get when you cross an attorney general with a U.S. Senator?

Answer: Dick Blumenthal.

People may not appreciate the joke until they’ve read Sen. Dick Blumenthal’s prescription for lower energy prices.

Appearing on Face the Nation” with Bob Schieffer, Mr. Blumenthal, who as attorney general of Connecticut for 20 years was very quick to pull the litigation trigger on companies large and small, called for “an investigation… involving subpoenas and compulsory process” to hold to the fire the feet of those who “may be driving prices up.”

A grand jury should be assembled, Mr. Blumenthal said, to “uncover the potential wrongdoing… The Justice Department should take the lead, seize this moment, and send a message — a very strong deterrent message — that this country will not tolerate the kind of illegal speculation and trading and hedge fund activity that may be driving prices up.”

The usual Blumenthal press release, when he was attorney general in Connecticut, was full of bluster and weasel words. The statements above are no exception: Stock speculators MAY be driving prices up; the Justice Department should SEND A MESSAGE rather than prosecute wrongdoing; illegal trading and hedge funds MAY be driving prices up.

Mr. Blumenthal’s solutions to high energy prices did not change when he moved from Hartford to Washington. An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) movement enforcer, Mr. Blumenthal is convinced that energy prices may be sufficiently reduced on the demand side through conservation measures. But the prospect of a descent into Hell – the reduction of energy prices through an increase in energy products on the supply side – is to be assiduously avoided, because some energy products may be injurious to the environment. Supply boosters such as oil mining, Blumenthal has argued, is a long term solution that “will take years to achieve on a scope and scale that will make a real difference.”

There are two ways to reduce energy prices: Prices are lowered when demand decreases, and they also are lowered when the supply of energy increases. The theology of the EPA movement considers the second solution sinful --depending upon the kind of energy that is made more abundantly available.

Politicians in Mr. Blumenthal’s party who announce in favor of nuclear production – a clean form of energy that could make Connecticut energy self sufficient – find themselves flirting with the near occasion of sin. A bill promoted by the Democratic co-chairs of the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology Committee that would impose a crippling $330 million tax on nuclear energy is now making its way through the state’s legislature. As the bill was being pushed through the legislative sausage maker, Mr. Blumenthal was careful not to comment on SB1176, even though Dominion, the owner of Connecticut’s sole nuclear power plant, which provides HALF the energy used in Mr. Blumenthal’s state, had announced it would shut down operations if the bill were written into law.

With a Hartford gas station serving as a backdrop, Mr. Blumenthal last month told reporters in Connecticut that “the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission should go after the speculators and the Justice Department should go after the foreign oil cartels that are ‘holding us hostage,’” according to a report in a Hartford paper.

Blumenthal supports legislation giving the Justice Department the authority to bring legal action against foreign entities. Accustom to brooking no challenges as attorney general in command of 200 lawyers, Mr. Blumenthal evidentially anticipates no retaliation from foreign entities, some of which are sovereign countries. The former attorney general is seemingly unaware that the entities’ equivalent of a Justice Department also may sue the U.S. government, producing a litigation war that doubtless would enrich lawyers even as it would bring international business to a screeching halt.

Mr. Blumenthal’s erstwhile Republican opponent in the late senatorial election, former wrestling impresario and business owner Linda McMahon, could have told Mr. Blumenthal that a good part of the price increase in energy, gas included, is the result of inflation. The price of gas and other products have increased in part because the value of the dollar has decreased. It takes more dollars to buy a gallon of gas because inflation has reduced the purchasing power of U.S. money. In addition, a large part of the dollar pumped into car tanks are taxes imposed by environmentally friendly state politicians who approve of high gas taxes as a means of SENDING A MESSAGE to car owners that they should switch from gas powered vehicles to other modes of transportation. High gas prices  in Connecticut fund Big Budgets and encourage mass transport -- supposedly.

Though inflation leads to higher prices -- the dollar last year lost 9 cents against the battered Euro -- Mr. Blumenthal has yet to demand that President Barrack Obama’s justice Department should convene a grand jury for the purpose of SENDING A MESSAGE to the folk who mind the money in the Federal Reserve that they should cease and desist pumping dollars into the money supply to pay off the unconscionable debt incurred for the last two years by Mr. Blumenthal’s largely veto proof Democratic Party in the U.S. congress.
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