Saturday, August 9, 2008

'Voting for Drilling' ... A Congressional Fairy Tale

As I was catching up reading a number of my favorite blogs this morning, I came across this article: Oooh, nuance!: The Krugman Speaketh. It's a great article.

I've also spent, over the last few days, way too much time watching CNN and listening to both sides of the drill/don't drill arguments. I've come to the conclusion that it's all just a bunch of politically ... pandering ... crap! If Congress actually had the means and authority to break out the equipment and 'drill' ... that would be one thing, but they don't. They presume that by merely passing some congressional bill to approve of off-shore drilling (and don't even talk to me about drilling ANWR into swiss cheese), the oil companies would immediately go out and begin drilling. And in their fairy tale world, that would instantly translate into gas prices dramatically falling overnight to levels we haven't seen in decades. Yeah, right. Fat chance that fairy tale has any basis whatsoever in reality!

If the oil companies were to start the drilling process ANWR 'today' ... it would take 10 years before we'd see anything at the pump. If they were to start drilling 'off-shore' today ... [according to the EIA] it wouldn't make ANY difference at the pump until 2030! So tell me ... how does all this political posturing help ordinary American citizens make critical decisions like ... "where am I going to get enough money to put gas in the car as well as put dinner on the table?"

Heck, the Oil Companies knew years ago that the supplies of oil are limited and that we're now on the downhill side of the availability slope. They could care less about discovering and drilling for new sources of crude oil. They're too busy liquidating their business. Take a read through the internet and you'll find one article after another about the billions of dollars the oil companies are spending to buy back their own stock ... thus making sure that those who supported them over the years get their money back before the oil companies finally close their doors for business.

Why do I say that? Well, think about the number of refineries that have burned down over the last few years ... and that the oil companies haven't replaced. There hasn’t been a new refinery built in the U.S. since 1976. For those who are mathematically-challenged, that's 32 years. Then, take a look at the leases they're sitting on. The oil companies could drill today, on any one of the nearly 68 million acres of leases they already hold, if they were so inclined ... but they're not. They're risk averse to the possibility of bringing in even one dry hole.

So how is 'drilling' the answer? It isn't! Allowing the oil companies to turn our hemisphere into swiss cheese won't make one iotas worth of difference in the price of gas at the pump, or heating oil for your furnace. The real answer is developing a comprehensive strategic plan for moving the U.S. away from oil products. We desperately need a strategic plan that not only aggressively shifts energy production to wind, solar, geothermal and nuclear energy, but one that looks at building supporting infrastructure that will be absolutely necessary to support it.

For years now, the introduction of either electric plug-in hybrid vehicles and/or natural gas powered vehicles has been stuck in a catch 22 conundrum. The automakers don't want to produce and market those types of vehicles because consumers wouldn't buy them. And they're right, because there would be no place to refuel them. You might be able to get somewhere, but you wouldn't be able to get back. The utilities (electric and natural gas) companies (or third-party companies for that matter) don't want to spend billions of dollars to build infrastructure to support non-existent vehicles. And there it stands, and will continue to stand until some visionary person leads us down a different path.

Because this year is an election year, we're hearing a lot about oil and alternative energy. What we haven't heard anything about is 'infrastructure' ... from any party's candidate. Frankly, I don't think either Obama or McCain understand what it's really going to take to reduce America's dependence (to the tune of $700 Billion/year) on foreign oil. And it's not just them. Do you think either of them is going to be able to get that circus they call a Congress to toe the line to get the job done without doubling the already outrageous national debt?

So far, I've only seen one person who's stepped up to the plate to begin aggressively taking the steps necessary that will lead us in a direction that would reduce our reliance on middle eastern oil ... T. Boone Pickens. Thank you sir 'for putting your money where your mouth is' as the saying goes, and actually doing something that will ultimately make a difference for ordinary Americans who are desperately trying to make ends meet.

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