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Don’t believe the hype

At the moment, President Bush and others are pushing hard for increased domestic oil production — mostly new drilling projects offshore and in ANWR. With partisan opposition mollified by popular outrage over high fuel prices, they are likely to keep quiet about the real story and ride public misconception straight to a big money-grab and no real improvement in the quality of life of average Americans.

First things first: I’m in favor of domestic oil production. Environmentalists should remember that we’ll do less damage extracting the oil ourselves then outsourcing the job to countries with less strident environmental standards (and in cases such as Ecuador, more biota to destroy). And those in favor of retaining domestic industry should welcome the opportunity to expand this one in place of sending that money overseas.

Unfortunately, I’ve got a sinking feeling that what we’re really getting set up for is the worst type of political bait-and-switch. Tapping new domestic oil reserves won’t fix gas prices, but politicians (mostly Republicans, I predict), will keep mentioning the two together hoping they’ll stick. But don’t apply your critical thinking skills to the perplexing strategy that seeks to roll back protections for public lands regardless of currently unexploited domestic reserves while squirming in the face of improved CAFE standards and blocking the renewable energy tax credit. If you do think about it, you’re liable to realize that this is a lot more about cashing in on high oil prices than lowering them.

Just like the Iraq war, our elected officials are trying to play us against our greatest collective troubles in order to achieve an end that has been dishonestly inferred to be a solution. Democrats will waffle in the face of public pressure to do something — anything — and down the road when their constituents realize they’ve been bent over a barrel (har har), they’ll offload responsibility in order to remain the party of choice for environmentalists. Just like right now, when they are somehow the party of choice for anti-war folks despite caving to this same tactic just a few years back.

My belief is that the best way to lessen the bite caused by high oil prices is to stop wasting fuel. The Chinese and Indians have a long way to go to fill our shoes, so as Americans become more fuel efficient, global demand — and price — will soften. Then, why not spend our fuel dollars at home, on domestically drilled and refined oil, and use that fuel sparingly? We’ll buy less, spend less per unit as prices ease, and that money will stay right here in the USA. Let the Chinese hitch their wagon to OPEC, we can produce what we need and keep our public lands if we learn to live within our means.

So, let’s make our elected officials take real responsibility for their decisions, and let’s take responsibility ourselves to change the situation instead of hoping the government will have our best interests in mind.

One Comment

  1. Matt wrote:

    Most people I talk to seem to really miss the point of the true meaning of high gas prices. The rising oil prices makes it financially possible for an oil company to invest in oil that would otherwise be too costly to dig-up and refine. I believe that by increasing the price of oil, the geography of oil fields begin to change.
    The idea the prices will go down because of off-shore deep-drilling is a scam. It is only profitable when barrel prices are high; therefore prices will NEVER drop due to offshore drilling. An oil company will just stop drilling when the barrel price is too low. Interestingly, as the price of oil has gone up, deep oil fields have become more profitable. The Iraq war really starts to make sense when you think about how high barrel price could directly effect the geography of strategic oil fields.

    Barrel Prices:
    2002 $27.22
    2003 $32.34
    2004 $42.80
    2005 $54.99
    2006 $62.11
    2007 $66.40
    2008 $131.93

    What would be immediately beneficial to Americans would be to close the Enron loophole

    Friday, June 20, 2008 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

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