Monday, June 16, 2008

Oil: Made in the USA

From the 09 June 2008 Greater Niagara Newspapers

By Bob Confer

The United States twice suffered through oil crises in the 1970’s. The 1973 installment was caused by the OAPEC and OPEC cartels cutting-off and manipulating supplies to nations like ours that had supported Israel. This event proved frightening to the American economy, with price controls and rationing being called in to play. The 1979 crisis, a relatively brief affair, was caused by striking oil workers in Iran who made Iranian output plummet and global prices rise, much to the benefit of OPEC.

You would have thought that our federal government would have learned from these major supply hiccups. But, it did not. We have done absolutely nothing to wean ourselves, if even remotely, off of Middle Eastern oil. Case in point, just last week voters in South Dakota approved rezoning for a new oil refinery. There hasn’t been one built in the United States for as long as I’ve been alive!

Because of special interest disdain for domestic development and federal ignorance to its importance, the dependence on foreign oil has been a recurring thorn in our side and it has proven to be extremely painful to us over the past few years. With gasoline well past $4 per gallon (weren’t we paying $1.50 in 2000?) and no end in sight, our economy is quite literally in the tank.

Not only has this dependence hurt every American consumer’s pocketbook at the pump and in the store, but, worse yet, thousands of American men and women have experienced physical and emotional pain (and even death) serving our nation in an effort to bring about peace to the Middle East, the obvious goal of which is to ensure the consistent availability of energy.

We definitely need to end this current oil crisis - which truthfully is really an extension of those of the 1970’s - and invest in America’s future by investing in America’s oil. It would be ignorant to believe that would could be fully independent, but we could definitely lessen our reliance. Current statistics show that we import about 60% of our oil. Cleaving just 15 percentage points off that would go a long way towards cutting costs and dampening our global interventionism. It’s not like we’re at a loss for oil here. We have plenty of it.

While some in Congress choose not to champion the concept for fear of reprisal from the green people, a few, such as US Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico, have chosen a path quite beneficial to America’s welfare and are asking that we use the resources we have. Domenici has introduced Bill S.2958 – “The American Energy Production Act” – that will initiate the use of American energy. The act is the first step and a big one at that.

For starters, it would promote oil exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It would allow private entities to lease the sites and tap into what is believed to be 14 billion barrels of oil. Revenues brought in from the leases would be shared amongst the states, the Federal treasury and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This drilling would be done with respect for the environment. Just look at Dubai’s model for success: They can tap offshore oils, they do it very cleanly, and their economy is booming because of it.

The act would promote interior development, too. Vast untapped oil shale reserves exist under Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah, something to the tune of 2 trillion barrels of crude. The bill would accelerate the leasing process and eliminate the current moratorium on oil shale which is only prolonging our economic agony. It would also open up ANWR for controlled development. Under that terrain sits 10 billion barrels ready for the taking. According to Domenici, had Bill Clinton not vetoed ANWR in 1995 we would now be taking oil from there, saving Americans $40 billion annually.

The bill would also promote green and clean energy. It would facilitate the creation of powerful vehicular batteries through loans and grants. It would invest $2 billion in clean coal technologies for electricity. And, it would provide incentives for development of cellulosic ethanol and biodiesels.

There’s a lot more to this bill and, overall, it has sound science and economics. Contact your Senators and let them know it needs to be passed so that we can cut some of our many foreign ties. Only then will we rise from our weakened state and see nothing but prosperity on the horizon.

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