PARAMUS – The sign just behind Josh Gottheimer advertised gas prices at $4.29 a gallon. The “good” news was that the price was 3 cents below the state average.
And that’s what brought Gottheimer and a handful of local officials to a Bergen County park today that was strategically located within sight of a BP gas station on Route 4.
Many people drive, so the price of gas clearly cuts across demographic and political lines. Some drive more than others, of course, and some are better equipped than others to shell out 80 bucks or so to fill their tanks.
Still, this is a big political issue and one that has Democrats nervous as the midterm election gets closer every day.
In truth, there is not much individual members of Congress can do about gas prices. But no one ever said politics was fair.
Gottheimer said he wants domestic oil production to increase. It is now a bit more than 11 million barrels per day. In 2019, which was pre-pandemic, it was about 13 million barrels a day,
Drilling for oil is always a political issue.
Republicans like to blame Democrats’ pro-environmental policies for lack of production.
But that’s not necessarily the case.
Gottheimer said there are up to 9,000 drilling permits now held by oil companies not being used. He said that’s unacceptable and that production must be ramped up. President Biden mentioned that number recently and it has been judged correct by fact-checkers.
More drilling would not bring immediate results. So, how about trying to buy oil from countries like Venezuela and Iran, as some have suggested?
No, said Gottheimer, adding that the United States should not seek oil from Iran, which supports terrorism, or left-wing Venezuela, whose leaders see Vladimir Putin as a friend.
Nor does the congressman want to suspend the federal gas tax of 18.5 cents per gallon. He said such revenue is needed to support infrastructure improvements, noting that Congress recently passed a massive infrastructure bill with bipartisan support. He also said he was skeptical if the savings from
reducing the tax would be passed onto the average driver.
Increasing production and moving toward clean energy is not impossible.
More production, notwithstanding, he said the nation must continue to promote solar and wind energy and electric vehicles, which is something the infrastructure bill also does.
Is there any good news on the horizon?
The price of oil on the world market has decreased in recent days from a high of $1.21 per barrel. At this writing, it’s about $99 a barrel, which is about 7 percent lower than yesterday. Moving in the right direction – at least for now.