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But we haven't built a major refinery in 25 years. Since 1992, 37 have closed. Those still operating are running at 97 percent capacity. Domestic oil production has declined from 9.6 million barrels a day in 1970 to 5.8 million last year. In the words of the Johnny Mercer song, ``Something's gotta give.'

Price caps work well - if your goal is increased consumption and decreased production. Or as Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham put it, price controls ``make a problem a disaster, and a disaster a catastrophe.'

Since 1996, California's political establishment has artificially held down the cost of electricity by capping consumer prices. (Utilities finally were allowed some increases this spring.) As a result, California ranks dead last among the states in power production per capita. Now Gov. Gray Davis wants caps on what utilities pay for energy - which should be a big incentive to companies that generate power. Why settle for a barge mishap when you can have the Titanic?

Conservation won't solve the problem.

Consumers can use their air conditioners less in summer and turn thermostats down in winter. But you can't meet the increased energy needs of a population expected to grow by 50 million in the next 20 years by unscrewing light bulbs.

As for alternative energy sources (wind, solar, ethanol), by 2020 they will supply a whopping 3 percent of U.S. electricity.

Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge isn't environmental rape. It doesn't even constitute an indiscreet glance at Mother Nature.

There are at least 11 billion barrels of oil there, the equivalent of 30 years of imports from Saudi Arabia. President George Bush is proposing to use a flyspeck of the refuge's 19 million acres. Since oil operations began in Prudhoe Bay, the area's caribou herds have increased fivefold. As the resource would be developed only during the Arctic winter, the environmental impact would be negligible.

Long on XOM,
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