Snott Stanzel Says It’s not Chimpy’s Fault…
Q Oil is hitting $120 a barrel today — a new record. Any response on that? And any further steps that the administration can take?
MR. STANZEL: Well, I think it’s another example that it’s important for the United States to become less dependent on foreign sources of energy. I understand some strife in Nigeria may be playing an impact on that. We have here in this nation resources that we are not utilizing. ANWR is an example, an issue that’s been debated over the past couple of decades — has been repeatedly blocked from exploration.
Q The President will be in Saudi Arabia next week. Will he be, again, urging King Abdallah to increase output there and to get OPEC to do the same?
MR. STANZEL: I think whenever the President has discussions with leaders in the region he talks about the impact that high oil prices do have on our economy and the impact that that then has on the world economy. So I think you can expect the President to make those concerns very clear.
Q But none of this offers any short-term relief, obviously. The solutions you’re talking about are years down the road, literally.
MR. STANZEL: Right, and many years ago we could have had a more forward-leaning energy policy, and that’s what we’re talking about. If we don’t want to go from short-term band-aid to short-term band-aid to short-term crisis to short-term crisis again and again and again, leaders in Congress should start to look forward and think about our long-term energy strategy. And it’s our contention that that hasn’t been the case in the last 20 years.
Q That may all be true, but voters are going to be asking, what have you done for me, when they go to the polls.
MR. STANZEL: And voters should understand that the President would like us to do a number of different things, whereas leaders in Congress have continually rejected the idea of expanding exploration, whether it’s ANWR or the Outer Continental Shelf; they continually stood in the way of those things, which makes us more dependent on foreign sources of energy.
Q So it wasn’t his fault?
MR. STANZEL: Well, it’s a problem that’s gone back many years.
But The People Want Action, Not Politics
Q Thank you. Scott, many Americans are saying that there’s a lot of talk right now about short-term/long-term fixes, but they need something immediately, right now. We’re facing $120 a barrel for oil now. A lot of people are concerned that — what’s not being looked at by the President. He’s saying he’ll look at every option — it’s price gouging. You’ve got Exxon, you’ve got Chevron making billions upon billions of dollars in profit when the American public is having problems going to the pump with the gas prices. Why not deal with that issue of price gouging?
MR. STANZEL: Well, there’s a structure in place to have those issues examined and that is something that we always have in place. And so if you’re talking about taxing energy-producing companies, the windfall profits tax is something that’s being considered on Capitol Hill. That, as Dana mentioned last week, was an abject failure when it was tried during the Carter administration. At a time when you have high prices, it makes absolutely zero sense to tax the people producing that energy.
Q But is there something — I mean, I hear what you’re saying, but from what I’m getting — I just, in front of the White House, just talk to average, everyday people. One person told me this is obscene and obsessive. People are hurting when they go to the pump. They don’t want to hear partisan politics. They want to hear someone unifying, cutting the red tape and getting to the heart of the matter. Can this administration do something about the fact that —
MR. STANZEL: The President said the other day that there’s no magic wand. If he could — if there was a magic wand, he would wave it and these prices would drop. But that’s not the case. We are dealing with a situation where we’ve had for many years an energy policy that hasn’t served the long-term needs of this country. So that’s the situation we find ourselves in.