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Quality of life hit by oil prices

Quickly becoming the issue of the summer, butting heads with the Iraq War, is the continually escalating price of gasoline and Congress' inability to do anything about it.

The price per gallon not only reached the magic $3 a gallon mark, it has now raced past $4 a gallon and threatens to climb past $5 a gallon under current conditions.

The Democrat-controlled Congress has failed to enact legislation for capturing some of Big Oil's healthy profits through a windfall profits tax, and it seems the idea floated by two of the three major presidential candidates a month ago to give a federal gas tax holiday has also dissipated, which probably isn't a bad thing to do.

Now proponents of oil drilling are back at it, renewing efforts for oil drilling of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore. President Bush called Congress to task Wednesday, saying offshore waters that have been off limits to oil company drilling for 27 years should be opened, and that ANWR should be developed for oil

We have stood fast on urging no drilling at ANWR, a position also held by Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., in opposition to his party. That area is just too pristine, and the analysis of oil under the tundra not great enough to tap.

But offshore drilling is an option that should be explored -- and properly regulated. Scandinavian countries have long used offshore drilling safely and effectively -- and finding enough oil to satisfy their needs. Another possibility is domestic oil development, such as that in Montana and North Dakota.

Still, finding and delivering more domestic oil to market won't lower prices today. And, as much as we want to develop clean energy such as hybrid cars, that too won't happen overnight to lower gas prices anytime soon.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn., offers her plan to reduce oil market speculation, demanding that traders have more at risk in making oil deals that cause barrel prices of oil to greatly fluctuate.

Part of the problem lies with the world's largest supplier -- the Arab countries who operate a monopolistic cartel as OPEC. Add to that the inability of Iraq to consistency and safely tap its oil-rich resources -- despite our armed military presence -- and one can easily see why American drivers remain frustrated over rising gasoline prices over which they have no control.

In the end, there are a lot of proposals out there -- but no action. Whether it takes a national summit, or making oil availability and pricing a global issue, or something similar on a large scale, for the first time in our nation's history, our quality of life will diminish.

-- Bemidji Pioneer