Drilling off Florida isn't the answer
May 21, 2008
Start drilling. Put those oil rigs off the protected beaches of
In essence, that is what Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson urged in an April 30 column.
Drilling, right away, in environmentally protected areas was a centerpiece of Samuelson's solution to rising gasoline prices. To oppose drilling in protected areas, he said, is "sheer stupidity" and "prejudice against oil companies."
That's the same thing the oil companies say every time there is a spike in gas prices. They cling to their own long-term remedy that would expose
Last week, the oil companies made two new end-runs in the Senate, trying to bust the long-standing ban on coastal drilling. Once again their supporters cited the high gasoline prices. Even though we stopped them by a half-dozen votes, they'll certainly be back — and, soon.
Against this backdrop I want to make clear that any oil still deep in the ground has no direct link — none — to today's pump prices. Any oil in the ground won't be in the marketplace for some 10 years. Further, the oil companies that want to drill much closer to our shores already have leases on 33 million other acres where they haven't even started drilling yet.
More importantly — no matter what anybody says or writes — the
In other words — and I'm using Samuelson's terminology here — it's "sheer stupidity" to think the
By the way, one of the main reasons oil prices have gone up sharply in recent years is volatility in major producer nations, such as
History reflects similar spikes circa 1973 with an OPEC oil embargo related to the Yom Kippur War, 1979 with the Iranian revolution, 1990 with
More drilling along protected
That means the law of supply and demand has been broken; and, we're paying an extra $71 per barrel that enriches speculators.
So, what to do?
Meantime, the oil companies are awash in record profits — more than $155 billion last year alone — and not spending enough on refineries or alternative energy, while consumers are getting gouged at the pump.
Even worse, it took the
In other words, we are wasting billions of gallons of oil.
So, again, what to do?
Fifty percent of the oil we use goes into our transportation. It shouldn't take a rocket scientist to realize this is where we must focus.
First, we must enact serious conservation measures, such as 40 miles per gallon for our vehicles, and, provide bigger tax breaks for hybrid cars.
Second, the government — led by the next president — must enact a national energy program to transition us from gasoline to alternative and synthetic fuels to power much of our transportation. President Kennedy led us to conquer the bounds of Earth within a decade.
We must act with the same urgency. And, while we are at it, we are going to have to make ethanol from things we don't eat.
And while we are at that, we are going to have to pay attention to how we power not just our cars and trucks, but our homes and industry. We are going to need to develop solar, wind and thermal energy, and safer nuclear power.
This is what our presidential candidates must pledge in place of drilling in protected areas.
Start drilling? Sheer stupidity.