"Drill Baby Drill" Where Hath Thou Gone?
The drumbeat for increased oil drilling to quench our insatiable energy appetite have subsided for now as a result of the tragic Gulf oil spill. Maybe now we can all sit down and develop a more diverse and sustainable strategy to meet our country's energy needs. The Obama administration has partially embraced offshore oil drilling as a compromise to the political right and as a temporary energy supply fix. This was to be incorporated into a broader and more comprehensive energy plan. This expanded offshore oil drilling policy has been temporarily put on hold until the Obama administration is able to fully deal with the consequences of this crisis and fully investigate its causes. My hope is that this investigation will include a reassessment of their energy plan and a complete move towards independence from fossil fuel energy.
I would like to state at the outset that I do not have a problem with fossil fuel energy use for now while we transition into a new alternative renewable energy model. I do feel that we must move away from fossil fuels into this new model with all great haste. Research and investment money is needed to accelerate this process. Gasoline is taxed at a very low rate in the United States compared to the rest of the industrialized world. Even a small increase would provide a huge amount of funds to facilitate this transition to renewable energy sources. A carbon tax would also be helpful. Both would also encourage energy conservation among the population.
I know these are highly controversial proposals for funding but they are extremely necessary for this transition to a new green energy model. I feel this is a matter of national security. Global warming is threatening the long term survival of the United States and the world. The supply of oil and gas is finite. The amount we still might find with new and increased drilling will buy us only a few years extra supply at best. Our time, energy, and financial resources would be best spent on renewable energy sources that would permanently wean us off our reliance on other countries' oil supplies and dramatically improve our environment. Our foreign policy would no longer be influenced so heavily on maintaing our access to these foreign oil supplies.
What would our energy situation look like in 10 years if we retained our current fossil fuel energy model? I believe that oil would cost $175 a barrel at a minimum. Lack of additional oil drilling will not be the cause of this rise. The current international economic recession is slowly lifting. Rising economic activity will lead to higher energy demand which will lead to steadily rising oil prices. This combined with the economic rise of highly populated countries such as China and India will contribute exponentially to rising oil prices. Global unrest especially in the Middle East will certainly exacerbate this situation at various times.
Our new renewable green energy plan should be a multi-pronged one. Wind and solar energy are two of the most popular and promising energy alternatives. These should be funded on a much grander scale with larger tax credits to accelerate the growth of both industries. Another alternative is highly controversial and not in favor at the moment. This is nuclear energy. The truth of the matter is that nuclear energy offers the best potential for a mass energy supply. Safety and nuclear waste disposal issues need to be adequately addressed but they are eminently soluable. Europe uses this form of energy on a widespread basis with an outstanding safety record. Other solutions such as synfuels are also being developed. These and other ideas should be researched and nurtured. No alternative energy solution should be ignored.
The bottom line to all of this is that the United States and the world's future is at stake here. The rapidly increasing populations in the world combined with the steady industrialization of the third world is leading to this crisis in energy supply. The United States must take the lead in finding solutions to this crisis. The third world is way behind us in development and will not cede any ground if we are not willing ourselves to change and sacrifice.
The United States has the technology and resources to lead the way in this transition to alternative renewable green energy. The question is whether or not we will have the political will to make it happen. I sincerely hope we do. Future generations are depending on us to do the right thing and act on this now.