Drilling is Not the Solution

The public outcry over $4 a gallon gas (and rising) has spurned somewhat of a college industry among the press in the woes and perils of high energy costs. The latest news is that unsigned bands will have to cancel national tours due to the high fuel costs. Heartbreaking, I know.

Actually, despite my sarcasm my second dream job was rock star. I found out I couldn’t throw 90 mph, so that ended my first, and then I found out that most rock stars spend years living on cheap beer and sand, which ended my second. So I support small bands and wish them the best. (I still think of you, Julie!! Hope Portland’s better than BFE, IL.)

And raised energy prices are nothing to disregard so lightly. After all, Hillary Clinton “heard from some folks” that things are getting rough. So both candidates are starting to showcase their plans for relief. For example, they both support closing loopholes which allow oil company speculations to drive prices up. Some are saying Obama is merely following McCain’s lead on this (thanks, liber.rhetoricae), but it’s good that both candidates agree.

However, McCain has taken the extra step to try and end the 26-year moratorium on drilling off the U.S. coastlines, a plan that is even having a hard time convincing many coastline Republicans.

I think many people along the coastlines are having a “not in my backyard” type reaction. We get that a lot in central Illinois when companies want to start building wind turbines. But in this case I have to agree wholeheartedly with those who oppose it. It’s just not a smart, responsible way to deal with the fuel costs.

First, the Senate has already turned down such a measure, by a 56-42 vote. This is a plan championed by Bush, which means (fair or not) it’s not going to get a lot of air play in a Democrat-controlled Congress before January. So far from offering immediate help, it won’t even be approved for at least seven more months.

Further, though both Obama and McCain agree that at least part of the gas price problem is a lack of oil supply, even Bush admits that it will take years, as long as a full decade, for drilling to start pumping more oil into the U.S. economy, and hence years before any sort of relief at the pump.

When you couple this long time line with the increase in demand that will continue due to higher oil consumption from large countries such as China and Brazil, this is a plan that will bear no fruit for the average American consumer.

McCain has voted against such a measure before, and as little as three weeks ago stated that such actions “would take years to develop, [and] would only postpone or temporarily relieve our dependency on fossil fuels.” This change of heart seems to be little more than the same political posturing used to champion the ill-advised gas tax cut.

(To his credit, he continues to express opposition to drilling in ANWR.)

The truth is, the time and resources spent drilling for oil in our coastline could be much better spent developing ways to alleviate our dependency upon oil, which is going to be the only way we can ultimately provide permanent relief from high gas prices. Ten years is along time to wait for help at the gas pump, but it’s also a long time to incorporate solar power, or find new ways to reclaim all the lost energy involved in driving a car, or establish a hydrogen infrastructure to power fuel cell or liquid hydrogen vehicles, or increase electric engines which run on American made energy using coal, natural gas, solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, or nuclear energy, or even something really cool that we haven’t even thought up of yet.

Working to expand the energy matrix, and not just our oil supply, also has an added benefit – it provides relief not just from the gas station but the electric company. Focusing our solutions on providing more oil does us no favors when the price of energy required to power our homes is also increasing. I must admit, McCain seems legitimately interested in helping expand our nation’s ability to provide cheap, clean, renewable energy. But framing the energy debate on the price of gasoline only limits the nation’s sense of expediency in accomplishing this goal by suggesting the problem is not the status quo, but rather our capabilities in sustaining it.

Many people are complaining that Obama’s opposition to this drilling is merely representative of a larger “can’t do” ideology of the Democrat party, if not liberal thought as a whole. Obama has an extensive policy of things we can do to help provide cheaper energy – at the pump and at the home. In fact, focusing our attention on increasing the oil supply is actually much more of a “can’t do” policy – we can’t increase fuel efficiency to levels already demanded in much of the world, can’t increase it in a financially viable manner, can’t create automobiles or technologies which rid us of our dependency on oil to begin with.

We can, we must, and it’s time that we do. For Julie’s sake.

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2 responses to “Drilling is Not the Solution

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