I’m listening to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) talk to Thom Hartmann on Air America. Sanders is arguably the best senator in decades, and understands, as he just explained, that we need to transform our energy system toward renewables.

But he also said something to the effect that “we have to get gas prices back down.” I can’t blame him — particularly in his state of Vermont, rural people are getting slammed by high gas prices, because they have to drive long distances.

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His main explanation of high prices (with which Thom Hartmann, an important progressive radio talk show host, seems to agree) is based on 1) oil companies ripping us off, 2) speculators pushing up the price of oil, and 3) OPEC keeping a lid on production.

While all of those are certainly a problem, and a windfall profits tax that Sanders advocates is certainly in order, if the Senate’s most progressive voice is not discussing the problem that the supply of oil is beginning to decline, then I don’t see how carbon pricing is going to fare well. In the long run, people will get hysterical as their oil expenditures increase, as I argued in what I will now call Part 1 of what may become a series on oil hysteria. We need to push a mandate on turning the American car fleet into an all-electric fleet, and we need to construct a national high-speed rail and light rail network.

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