Sep 012008
 
Authors: Somerset Perry

(UWIRE) – While the focus of the U.S. presidential campaigns swung from the War on Terror to candidates’ celebrity alter egos and gas prices were rising with the temperature, offshore drilling has remained a contentious issue.

Abandoning his position as an environmentally enlightened member of his party, John McCain has hit upon the issue again and again, hoping to use it as a wedge issue, while Obama repeatedly restates his stance that offshore drilling should only be part of a greater compromise bill that pointed the country toward a sustainable energy future.

Drilling offshore would seem to be a good decision. High gas prices would be lowered if there were more oil being produced. It’s economics; supply and demand, right? A gigantic trade deficit? Threatening regimes lining their pockets with the petrodollars SUV owners spend at the pump? Offshore drilling can help with that.

It sounds like a good deal on the surface, but upon closer examination, it’s apparent that offshore drilling is nothing more than a dead end on the path to solving our energy problems.

First, there’s the question of relief at the pump. We all want to make that road trip down south, and some say that drilling offshore will help lower prices in the short term.

This is simply untrue. Any oil produced from offshore drilling will not reach the market for 10 years, bringing no relief this summer or next.

Even the Department of Energy agreed. According to a 2007 report, projected results of offshore drilling in the Pacific, Atlantic and eastern Gulf regions “would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.”

It went on to point out that the real cause of current high gas prices is the global market. Any oil produced from our own shores would still be sold to the highest bidder, which would most likely be the voracious industries of China and India.

Because of the global nature of the oil market, drilling offshore won’t help reduce our dependence on foreign oil; in the long run, it could increase it by stunting efforts to shift to renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar power.

As long as we rely on oil as a main source of energy we will never achieve energy independence. The U.S. consumes 24 percent of oil produced globally while it produces only 10 percent of the world’s petroleum.

Iran, Venezuela, Russia and Libya – a pretty nasty quartet – as well as six other countries, possess greater reserves than the U.S.

If oil remains America’s main source of fuel, we will as a matter of course continue to import oil, from those four countries and elsewhere.

No matter how much domestic production is increased, reliance on oil is inevitably a losing play if we want to achieve true energy independence.

The real solution for high gas prices lies in alternative methods of transportation and alternative energy sources. It lies in spending more money on public transportation and less on oil subsidies, buying a hybrid instead of an SUV, promoting smart growth instead of suburban sprawl and, eventually, buying a car like the Chevy Volt, which will allow most to make their daily commute without using any gasoline.

Taking the shortcuts like offshore drilling are what got us into this crisis in the first place and taking another shortcut – especially a shortcut that likely won’t show any results for 20 years – will not get us out of it.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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