Archive for Wednesday, May 14, 2008

US should look within for energy solutions

May 14, 2008


With gas prices topping $4 a gallon in some regions of the country, now may not be the best time to say something positive about "big oil," but here goes anyway.

Where is it written that the cost for a product or service should be frozen in time, never to rise again, or to rise at a pace commensurate with our incomes? People who think this way know little to nothing about supply and demand and less than nothing about the profit motive. That's because at least three generations have been raised on the notion of entitlement, and when one feels entitled to something, one believes someone else should pay.

Senate Democrats last week sought to ingratiate themselves with voters, while doing nothing to produce more energy, with a familiar attack on "big oil." They want to repeal $17 billion in tax breaks for the oil companies over 10 years and on top of that impose a windfall profit tax on companies that don't invest in new energy sources. This is political expediency at its worst.

Peter Robertson, vice chairman of Chevron, told me it's a myth that oil companies are not investing in new energy sources. He says last year alone, Chevron spent $20 billion exploring new sources of energy.

Robertson said President Bush's trip this week to Saudi Arabia is "highly embarrassing" because he is "calling on the Saudis to produce more oil when we are not doing it ourselves." The last refinery built in America was in 1976. Tighter government regulations are the main reason. That's how unserious we are about our energy "crisis."

Robertson said there would be plenty of oil available to the United States if the oil companies were allowed to get it: "Eighty-five percent of offshore oil is off-limits." Responding to objections to offshore drilling by environmentalists and their allies in Congress, Robertson noted that some of the strongest pro-environment nations in Europe - he mentions Denmark, Norway, the United Kingdom - lease offshore locations for oil exploration. The technology has become so good, he said, that during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, "one thousand offshore wells were destroyed (in the Gulf of Mexico), but not one leaked." Australia, he said, has allowed offshore drilling for 40 years without any environmental damage.

In addition to the sinking value of the dollar, here is the main problem. According to the Department of Energy, U.S. oil production has fallen approximately 40 percent since 1985, while the consumption of oil has grown by more than 30 percent.

According to government estimates, there is enough oil in areas accessible to America - 112 billion barrels - to power more than 60 million cars for 60 years. The Outer Continental Shelf alone contains an estimated 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Had President Clinton not vetoed exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in 1995, when oil was $19 a barrel, America would currently be receiving more than 1 million barrels a day domestically, all of it taken by better technology than existed more than 30 years ago. That was when the Alaskan pipeline was built despite protests from environmentalists who claimed it would destroy the caribou. It didn't, but the environmentalists are back with the same discredited arguments. Because most of the oil remains "off-limits," we are becoming more dependent on foreign oil.

No, we can't "drill our way out" of our addiction to oil, but we can make the transition to other energy sources easier while lessening our dependence on foreign oil and propping up dictators who use our money to subsidize terrorists. A slow transition also will give us time to consider more fuel-efficient cars and greater use of public transportation, even bicycles for short trips.

The specter of a president of the United States going hat-in-hand to Saudi Arabia to plead for more (and more expensive) oil from the dictatorship that underwrites an extreme form of Islam that is out to kill us is obscene. President Bush ought to be rallying Americans, not embracing people who don't allow women to drive cars.

- Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


Flap Doodle 10 years ago

"If the claim that 1000 off shore wells were destroyed by hurricanes Katrina and Rita yet none leaked is true, then our technology is far ahead of where I thought it was."Hadn't heard that before. Citation?

salad 10 years ago

Holy crap! Cal Thomas advocating riding bicycles to save gas! Devils minion: "Hey boss, how're things in the whitehouse?"Devil: "Business is good."minion:" Great,, you're probably not gonna believe this, but it's starting to get kinda cold down here."Devil: "huh?!?!"minion: " looks like Cal Thomas advocated using bicycles to save gas."Devil: ".....well I'll be damned"minion: "Good one boss, but seriously, it might snow tonight. You better get back here."

JerryStubbs 10 years ago

A new forecasting report from the U.S. Department of Energy asserts wind power could generate 20 percent of U.S. electricity needs by 2030. The scenario, "while ambitious, could be feasible if the significant challenges" identified in the report are overcome. "To dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance our energy security, clean power generation at the gigawatt-scale level will be necessary, and will require us to take a comprehensive approach to scaling renewable wind power, streamlining siting and permitting processes, and expanding the domestic wind manufacturing base," said Andy Karsner, DOE assistant secretary of energy efficiency and renewable energy. The report, "20% Wind Energy by 2030," was released Monday. The DOE notes that the report does not compare the 20 percent wind scenario to other energy options, nor does it lay out any specific action plan. Rather it was written to examine the costs, challenges and key impacts of obtaining 20 percent of the nation's energy from wind power in 2030. More than 300 gigawatts of wind power capacity would be needed to meet the DOE's 20 percent scenario, up from 11.6 gigawatts in mid-2007. Wind turbines currently generate a little more than 1 percent of the country's total capacity. One gigawatt is enough to power roughly 650,000 homes. To reach that level, the wind industry would have to quicken its pace of installations more than fivefold by 2018, to 16 gigawatts a year, up from 3 gigawatts a year today, and then sustain that pace through 2030.

gr 10 years ago

Took long enough for LJW to run an article about this.We wouldn't have to be importing ANY oil. But instead we fund terrorists. Sounds like Clinton could be responsible for why we are in Iraq.Which is more important? Worrying about some "potential" environmental problem (which we and others can do without problems) and fund terrorism or should be become energy independent and stop funding terrorists to come over here and blow us up?"The u.s. government sends out sonar that has been proven to throw whales and other sea mammals way off and even worse."Lounger, are you saying drilling oil wells requires sonar? Would you suggest we fund terrorists in order to prevent throwing whales "way off"?

Brent Garner 10 years ago

If the claim that 1000 off shore wells were destroyed by hurricanes Katrina and Rita yet none leaked is true, then our technology is far ahead of where I thought it was. Those were very violent storms! Probably some of the worst we will ever see. Yet, if this claim is true, even with the rigs destroyed there was no leakage then, where is the threat of "oil spills" from off shore wells? And if you think the Danes, Norweigans, and other Europeans are in the pocket of oil companies by allowing them to drill off shore, then perhaps you should see a doctor for your paranoia.

Scott Drummond 10 years ago

"Damage to oil facilities from Hurricane Katrina caused four medium spills (more than 10,000 gallons) and 134 minor spills, in which 8 million gallons of oil leaked onto the ground and into waterways from Louisiana to Alabama. The largest single spill was at the Bass Enterprises Production Company site in Cox Bay, La., where 3.78 million gallons of oil spilled. Another large spill was at the Chevron Empire oil terminal in Buras, La., where the roof of one storage tank was ripped off and the foundation of another ripped out, leaking 1.4 million gallons of oil"The quote in the article about there being no damage was just some industry person's opinion. The site provided by Marion above appears to be from the group that purports to regulate off-shore drilling. After 7 years of the bush administration's efforts it is hardly surprising that they function now as little more than industry cheerleaders. Even the figures I've cited above don't suggest major, catastrophic damage, but hardly the "no damage" asserted in the story

gr 10 years ago

Beam scotty up!"in which 8 million gallons of oil leaked onto the ground"What about "one thousand offshore wells were destroyed (in the Gulf of Mexico), but not one leaked" do you think is ground based?I may be mistaken, but coastal wells do not mean offshore to me.

Scott Drummond 10 years ago

Here's an idea, instead of competing with the American public and driving up oil prices, why doesn't bush quit restocking the strategic oil reserve? Lessening demand would have an imediate impact on prices & it is a horrible use of our tax dollars to by oil at such artificially high prices and during the heat of the summer driving season (why not do such replenishment during the winter?) Why won't bush stop such a foolish practice?

lounger 10 years ago

This is NOT the answer. Two steps forward and three steps back. Look to the future. Not to the past. You think our oceans are screwed up now just start sinking oil wells off shore and then NOTHING will be able to function correctly. THere is the question of oil spills. The drilling itself of the ocean floor. The disruption of wildlife patterns. The u.s. government sends out sonar that has been proven to throw whales and other sea mammals way off and even worse. Dont let these articles such as this sway you. Its a bad idea. Period. Leave the oceans alone and wind, solar, bio and a host of other new, smart, earth friendly solutions are out there for us.

a_flock_of_jayhawks 10 years ago

article title: "US should look within for energy solutions"newsflash - they already didIt happened back in April 2001 when Cheney held secret meetings with the energy industry (NEPDG), meetings we still do not and are are not supposed to know about. A couple of oil execs that attended the meetings, according to documents that were obtained, testified before Congress that they either did not attend these meetings or did not even know of them. The question is why did they lie?Just yesterday, a Bush administration official said that Congress needs to develop a broad energy policy. Well, then, what resulted from NEPDG?

myztikal 10 years ago

I'm all for saving Mother Earth, but we all have to remember that there has been thousands of different things that have happened over the years that we don't and never will have any control over. We just need to accept the fact that nature will have to be disturbed for the human race to survive. Thats something that has been happening since the evolutation of man. We disturbed nature just by evolving and walking up right and we are going to have to keep disturbing nature in different ways to survive.

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