YES WE CAN! Drill Our Way Out of This Oil Crisis!
May 13, 2008, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) announced, "We can't drill our way out of this." This was his response to pressure on legislators to increase oil drilling and exploration to help elevate high gas prices. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time this phrase was picked up by the mainstream media.
It wasn't the last.
Before long the phrase was being repeated by many Democrats in Congress, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Presidential Nominee Barack Obama. Now I'm no expert in the area of economics, but I understand how supply and demand works. If you want something, and there ain't a lot of it, you'll pay a lot for it!
What really chaps my backside is the mindset of many Americans on how the high gas prices are saving the planet. Higher gas prices have definitely altered our driving habits, but we still have to drive. It's pretty sad when filling the gas tank costs more than the car payment and monthly insurance premium combined. Besides, didn't we already try this approach with cigarettes? "Tax the heck out of a pack of cigarettes and less people will smoke them," right? I'm not a cigarette smoker, but the people in my life that do smoke still smoke. They've had to rearrange their spending habits a bit, but they still buy their Marlboros.
Laughter is the Best Medicine...
I Paid $4.04 for Gas Last Night!
Being a stay at home dad, I am more sensitive to the cost of the stuff I buy. When my wife and I made the commitment to our kids to have one of us available to each of them at all times, we sat down and carefully honed our budget to reflect the loss of my income. There isn't much wiggle room. Gasoline was hovering around $3 per gallon at that time, so we budgeted accordingly.
Consider the over the road trucker. If it costs him more to transport goods from the producer to the retailer, prices go up. If the manufacturer of a product is forced to pay more to have raw materials shipped to him, guess who covers that? You and me. High gasoline prices affect every consumer- not just my wife who commutes 3o miles per day. My budget is in need of constant revision. I find myself cutting more and more of the ‘unnecessary expenses' because my grocery bill has increased nearly $100 dollars per month.
So what's the big deal? Gas has only gone up a buck per gallon and the grocery bill is $100 more a month, stop whining and move on, right? Easier said than done for a family like mine that still has the same income as one year ago and a very tight budget; and my family isn't the only one in this position.
Please understand that I am all in favor of energy alternatives and conservation. Georgia has been in one of the worst droughts in decades this past year and we have been living with very tight water restrictions. We have learned many ways to save water and have cut our water use considerably. But the water authority didn't inflate prices or cut supply to convince me to conserve.
I can't help but feel that we are going about this oil crisis we face a little bass-ackwards. Cutting production, or inflating the cost of gasoline to force less consumption is the equivalent of quitting your current job because you plan to get a new one- before you have a lead on a new job!
I am also growing weary listening to the talking heads in the media bemoaning the fact that the US comprises a measly 4% of the world's population yet we consume more oil than the rest of the world put together. Whether this is true or not, we cannot simply alter our consumption levels overnight. I'm not just talking about individual consumers, I am talking about our enitre way of life. We can reduce our dependency, but this is a ,ajor undertaking that can not be accomplished over the weekend.
We can, however, drill our way out this crisis.
Consider ANWR, for example. If we had started drilling in ANWR when Clinton was in office, I'd bet gasoline would not be anywhere close to $4 per gallon now. No use fretting over what could have been, but did you notice earlier this week oil prices fell just over $10 per barrel in two days, and as of this posting is down another $5 per barrel. Down fifteen dollars a barrel in three days; how can this be? Mind if I tell you why I think this is happening? George W. Bush lifted the 18 year old ban on off-shore drilling on Monday, July 14th. Coincidentally, (or not) oil prices began a sharp decline.
Supply and demand. If there is more oil, prices will go down.
Not one industrialized country in the free world can survive without oil. Petroleum and its derivatives are found in so many products, that less supply doesn't just translate to $4 per gallon gas, everything containing the substance costs more. I will do my part to conserve and I am confident that the day will come when our dependency on oil and its byproducts has been diminished significantly. But until that day has arrived, can we all agree that more oil would be a good thing?