By Alan Caruba
While grabbing a bite to eat for lunch, I turned on the television and MSNBC was broadcasting live a presentation John McCain was making somewhere. He does well in these relatively unscripted events, but when he got to the topic of the price of gasoline and how to reduce current and future pain at the pump, he could not bring himself to say “oil.”
He ran off a string of “alternative” energy ideas such as solar, wind, nuclear, and “a battery that will let your car go a hundred miles” on a single charge, but there was no mention of America’s vast oil reserves in Alaska or the billions of barrels geologists believe exist in our continental shelf, 85% of which Congress has put off-limits to exploration or drilling. There was also no mention of the coal that accounts for more than 50% of the electricity in the U.S. and which would be required by his magical future automobiles.
(Revised text) Bill Clinton did not favor drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge where an estimated 7 to 15 billion barrels of oil exists and Congress resisted efforts of the Bush administration to permit drilling. That's a total of 16 wasted years when we could have been extracting it.
That is precisely why America has become dependent on foreign oil, the price of which is currently being bid up by speculators worried about more war in the Middle East, i.e., an imminent attack on Iran. First we had to kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait and then we decided to remove him entirely. Was this about tyranny or oil? Read my lips: O-I-L.
As for Iran's nuclear ambitions, the same action Israel took first with Iraq and more recently with Syria would end that. Or we could, in cooperation with the European Union and other nations, cut off foreign investment and markets to the ayatollahs until they cry "Uncle Sam!"
As the Saudis keep telling us, there is plenty of global oil to meet our needs, but it is the mercantile exchanges around the world where the price is set. Lacking an adequate domestic supply, Americans depend daily on the importation of 10.1 million barrels of foreign oil. We use 5.1 million barrels of domestic oil, and are required to add 0.4 million barrels of ethanol.
You can thank OPEC and Jimmy Carter for the pathetic state of domestic oil production. It has been in decline since the OPEC oil embargo that saw the first real jump in prices at the pump. You would have thought we would have taken a look at our capacity for domestic oil production, but what Carter did and some politicians (Obama!)are advocating today was to impose a “windfall profits” tax on American investor-owned oil companies.
All of a sudden the incentive to spend the millions required to find oil and produce it for domestic consumption disappeared, a condition that dates back to at least 1985. Thereafter, since most of the places in America where oil can be found were put off-limits, U.S. oil companies decided to look and drill for oil elsewhere in the world. (The exception is the Gulf of Mexico.)
With either McCain or Obama in the White House, new domestic exploration and drilling is not likely to happen, particularly since McCain cannot bring himself to even say the word “oil” and Obama wants to seize oil company profits in precisely the same way Jimmy Carter sabotaged the industry.
The recent charade of hauling oil company executives before a congressional committee demonstrates what idiots we have elected to high office.
While McCain is reeling off his list of alternative energy sources, he neglects to mention you can’t pour solar, wind or nuclear energy into the tank of an automobile, truck or tractor! McCain has drunk deeply of the global warming Kool-Aid and favors the kind of carbon credit program that was just defeated in the Senate. Both he and Obama were conveniently out of town when the vote on Al Gore’s cap-and-trade scheme was taken. Otherwise we would have discovered that both candidates cannot wait to destroy what is left of our economy.
How to turn things around is almost too simple.
First, get rid of the congressional mandate for ethanol. Ethanol effluent pollutes more than gasoline and ethanol ensures less mileage per gallon. It has significantly distorted the worldwide agricultural marketplace.
Second, get rid of the EPA mandate for the formulation of some 45 different blends of gasoline that drive up the cost in various areas of the nation. Consumers end up paying for all this essentially useless additional refining process. Unless you live in some place where the natural geography contributes to smog, the air in most of the nation is just fine.
Third, open up ANWR to drilling. NOW!
Fourth, let oil companies explore and drill for oil and natural gas offshore of our coasts. Environmentalists want to build miles of ugly wind farms there, but a couple of drill platforms are apparently too awful to endure for the literally billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas that exist.
Then wait patiently as the price of oil and natural gas drops like a stone.
Frankly both the presidential candidates scare the hell out of me, but I will settle for McCain if he just begins to say that magic word, OIL.