A BIG DOSE OF ENERGY REALITY
By Alan Caruba
Accustomed to affordable energy, Americans, when they do pay any attention to energy issues, look for someone to blame when prices spike. They rarely look at Congress, assuming it is in the pocket of Big Oil. There’s something to be said for this, given the fact that the oil industry pumped $25.5 million into the campaigns of federal candidates during the last election cycle, 80% of which went to Republicans.
Surely, then, Congress is catering to Big Oil and doing what it can to insure ample energy for the nation. No. In fact, according to Ed Feulner, the President of The Heritage Foundation, “before the House of Representatives passed the federal budget, lawmakers stripped out a provision that would have allowed companies to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.” The oil from a tiny portion of ANWR “could generate as many as 16 billion barrels of oil, enough to replace about 30 years worth of oil imports from Saudi Arabia.” A more recent effort to authorize the extraction of ANWR reserves also failed.
Feulner also noted that, “partly because of opposition by lawmakers from Florida and California, Congress bans oil and natural gas exploration in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the outer continental shelf.” These days, too, “federal law restricts access to resources in the Rocky Mountains and elsewhere.” Does any of this make any sense to you? If Congress is in the grip of the giant energy companies, why has it consistently created obstacles to the extraction of our own resources of energy?
Representative Richard Pombo, Chairman of the House Committee on Resources, will tell anyone who will listen that, “for the foreseeable future, America has no shortage of oil or other traditional energy resources. Washington, D.C., has a shortage of the political will required to let American workers go get it.”
For example, “The United States has enough non-park federal resources to supply natural gas to 100 million homes for 157 years. But, despite that massive supply, we cannot deliver even one year of affordable natural gas to Americans right now.” The result is that the wholesale price of natural gas is twenty-four percent higher than it was last April, as most non-park resources are off-limits, and locked up with more than thirty regulations.”
Representative Pombo notes that ANWR contains “a mean estimate of 10.4 billion barrels of oil, according to the most recent United States Geographical Survey report. This represents a forty-five percent increase in total U.S. proven reserves, and could create more than 735,000 U.S. jobs.” The oil trapped in shale rock in the U.S.A. could produce two trillion barrels of oil; four times Saudi Arabia’s resources. For various reasons, while it is far from providing oil independence, America’s energy security would surely benefit from developing this source.
The United States of America is literally funding both sides of the war against the Islamofascists, buying oil from the Middle Eastern nations that support them and funding our military to destroy them.
At this point, I will be told that I am very naïve about our current energy problems. After all, the President comes from an “oil family.” True. And equally true is the fact that he has been trying to free up the ANWR oil reserves without any success to date. It would appear that any energy executives who got together with Vice President Cheney to advise on national policy haven’t had much luck either, except for some tax breaks.
Granted, Big Oil took in some significant profits recently, but, without them, they cannot invest the billions it costs to search for and develop new reserves worldwide, nor can they expand their refinery capacity without profits. Exxon Mobil, however, has spent $3.3 billion in the past five years expanding and improving its existing U.S. refineries, adding the equivalent capacity of three new facilities. To suggest oil companies are not looking for new sources is nonsense, though industry insiders debate issues about where they’re looking.
Daniel Yergin, Chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, went on record earlier this year in the Washington Post to report that his company’s field-by-field analysis of worldwide oil production capacity suggests:
As Yergin noted:
The World Energy Outlook 2005, published by the International Energy Agency, “expects global energy markets to remain robust through 2030." This publication states:
One of the main drags on the search for, extraction, and transportation of energy resources has been the worldwide environmentalist movement. In the U.S.A., the restrictions imposed on energy companies are largely the work of legislators in league with various Green organizations opposed to any use of “fossil fuel” energy on the grounds that it produces “greenhouse gases” and thus will lead to a massive, highly theoretical “global warming.” Since there is very little, if any, proof that anthropological (human) induced warming exists, it would be a good idea if we could get on with the business of producing the energy supplies the U.S.A. and the world need.
The world is not running out of oil, natural gas, or coal. The U.S.A. has so much coal we export it. If the environmentalists would just get out of the way, there would be no energy problem at all. Ironically, nuclear energy, the least polluting of all, has long been opposed by the Greens. At a recent UN Kyoto Protocol conference, Patrick Moore, the former founding member of Greenpeace, long since a critic, said, “It is the environmental movement itself that is the primary impediment to the reduction of CO2 emission and fossil fuel consumption because they refuse to support the obvious alternatives” of nuclear power and hydro power.
Energy costs are affected, of course, by unpredictable factors, such as Hurricane Katrina, which briefly disrupted oil extraction and refining in the Gulf States area. While gasoline prices did rise after the hurricane, they fell just as rapidly within weeks. Other factors involve the political and other objectives of Middle Eastern oil-producing nations and other oil-producing nations such as Venezuela.
That’s why Saddam Hussein had to be removed. He was a major threat to the nations of the Middle East. Responsible for an eight-year war with Iran and an invasion of Kuwait, he also posed a threat to Saudi Arabia. A stable constitutional democratic Iraq with a reliable justice system would prove to be a glaring example of what every other Middle Eastern nation, with the exception of Israel, lacks. It would also insure that Iraq’s huge oil reserves would flow again, minus the obscenities of Hussein’s vile regime. Iraq’s oil facilities and pipelines are under constant attack for this reason.
Meanwhile, in Iran, the extremist Shiite Islamic Revolution is discovering that Western direct investment in Iran has zeroed-out, thanks to the Iranian regime's highly dubious pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability and its open threat to destroy Israel. China’s and India’s growing need for oil, however, has gained Iran some powerful new friends.
Iran sits atop the third largest oil reserves. The more belligerent its leadership, the more Iran invites a “solution” comparable to Iraq’s.
Finally, back home in America, the U.S. national government is spending billions to research the possibility of hydrogen as a new “alternative” energy source. At some point, the government will have to tell the public that hydrogen as an energy source is impractical and inefficient and that, regrettably, researching the possibility has wasted a huge amount of money. This is called a learning curve and, until the money is down the old research chute, various environmentalist organizations and university research centers will continue to insist hydrogen is the wave of the future; along with solar energy and wind power.
You want low prices at the gas pump? You want to heat your home without having to give up one meal a day? You want electricity? Learn to love Big Oil, Big Gas, and Big Coal.
Alan Caruba is a veteran business and science writer, a Public Relations Counselor, and Founder of the National Anxiety Center, a clearinghouse for information about media-driven scare campaigns. Caruba writes a weekly commentary, "Warning Signs," posted on the Internet website of the National Anxiety Center, which is located at www.anxietycenter.com.
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