by J. F. Kelly, Jr. | Coronado
Southerners have a way of pronouncing it with one syllable (as in ohl). Others require two (as in oy-yul). But however you pronounce it, you can be certain that it will be around for a very long time. Contrary to popular myths and President Barack Obama, we are not close to running out of it or of places to drill for it.
Save-the-planet activists are taking advantage of the ongoing Gulf spill disaster to demonize oil and promote green energy. As a prominent member of the administration said recently, “Never let a crisis go to waste.” But renewable energy will not eliminate our dependence upon oil in our lifetimes because of obvious cost and storage issues. Renewable energy cannot be stored like petroleum products. Wind and solar depend upon nature’s capricious ways and are not useful in powering the vehicles that account for most of our energy use. Nobody seems to want nuclear energy plants in their neighborhood or nuclear waste storage facilities in their state.
Activists who want to end our dependence on the hated black fluid frequently use the argument that we ought not to be dependant upon Arab nations for our oil. But we aren’t. Most of our imported oil comes from this hemisphere and a good deal of our consumption comes from domestic sources. We are, in fact, a major producer of oil. And we could produce a lot more if we would end our unreasonable limitations on safe shallow water coastal drilling and even safer drilling in unpopulated areas of Alaska and the western states. In fact we could eliminate the need for foreign oil altogether if exploited these safely accessible sources.
The world produces nearly 60,000 barrels of oil every minute, most of it in foreign countries who control or own outright the means of production and are dependant upon oil revenue. They are going to continue to produce oil which will be purchased and consumed by energy-hungry countries whether our renewable energy activists like it or not. Protests and demonstrations will not change that. Neither will cap and trade policies which will only succeed in harming U.S. industries, making us less competitive.
These may be inconvenient facts for the Green energy activists, but they are facts nonetheless. Demand for oil will not abate. On the contrary, it will increase with developing giants like China and India fueling (pardon the pun) the increased demand. We should, of course, be working toward cleaner energy solutions but we must be realistic. Most depend heavily upon government subsidies and cannot compete economically with oil and natural gas. And speaking of the latter, we have an abundance of that, too, and I’m not referring here to Congress.
Given these realities, it is plain foolish not to exploit these safely accessible resources. Other countries will continue to exploit theirs no matter how much our activists rail against fossil fuels. Economic growth will trump conservationist ideology most of the time. Moratoria and policies aimed at restricting drilling, production and use will harm the economy and inhibit job creation. Authorizing additional safe exploration and drilling would, on the other hand, create tens of thousands of productive jobs including in the hard-hit Gulf States.
Instead of demonizing oil and promising further restrictions on drilling, there are more productive things the administration could be doing. Over two and a half months have passed since the Gulf crisis began and the states most affected are still complaining about difficulties in getting things done because of federal bureaucratic red tape. Examples are the use of skimmers including large tankers that have been refitted to skim and separate the oil from contaminated water, retain the oil on board and then discharge the cleaner water back into the Gulf. The EPA reportedly has delayed authorizing their use because the water discharged still contained some oil. But isn’t that water a whole lot cleaner than if it had just been left in the Gulf in the first place?
Many nations have offered ships with sophisticated technology for controlling spills that we lack in this country. (Don’t be surprised. When the USS Cole was disabled by terrorists in Yemen, we had to hire a foreign ship to transport her back to the U.S. because we didn’t have a ship suitable for the task). These offers have not been acted upon as of this writing because the administration refuses to waive the Jones Act, a relic which places restrictions on foreign ships in U.S. coastal waters. It was designed to protect our maritime industry from foreign competition at a time when we actually had a competitive maritime industry which has long since ceased to be the case.
These examples suggest a few of the actions that the Obama administration could take now instead of spending time and energy trying to deflect blame away from its own inaction. Meanwhile, oil continues to gush as a result of this BP-caused disaster and now the hurricane season is upon us. And if the relief well solution doesn’t work, what then?
copyright 2010 J.F. Kelly, Jr
J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California.