August 16, 2006
See the Obvious
On Monday, British Petroleum announced that it would have to shut
down its oil production facilities in
Bay, Alaska, in order to repair a corroded line than had begun leaking
crude. As a result, the world markets – already skittish over
instability in the
and hurricane season in the
Gulf of Mexico – reacted by raising the price of oil by two
dollars a barrel, to $78. And right on schedule, the usual suspects yet
again start spewing their ignorant bilge about "price gouging" and
"alternative fuels." Why are they so unable to see the obvious and
simple truth right in front of their faces?
Oil prices are high because supply is tight – so much so that even
the tiniest disruption in those supply lines causes the whole system to
be in danger of collapse. When you have a limited number of actively
producing oil fields and no spare refinery capacity at all, the loss of
any small part of that system is magnified and made far more critical
than it ever needed to be.
Notice that I didn't say supply is low. That's because it isn't.
Between the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (10.4 billion barrels), the
of Mexico (4.6 billion) and estimated large deposits off the Pacific and
Atlantic coasts, there is plenty of crude oil available inside American
territory--enough to supply all of our oil needs and demands for decades
to come. ANWR alone would have been enough to render the BP Prudhoe Bay
shutdown an unnoticed irrelevancy to everyone but BP and their
stockholders, were it up and running.
So why haven't we tapped those supplies? Because the energy-hating
radical environmentalist lobby and the Democrat politicians they control
like a puppetmaster controls marionettes won't let anyone retrieve them.
And their liberal allies in the propagandist media help the cause by
smearing and demagoguing oil companies while burying the facts. Those
facts are as follows:
• There is plenty of crude oil available, both in US territory and
worldwide, if only we weren't being blocked from obtaining it. And a
resource isn't a resource unless it gets used.
• Oil production in the US peaked in the late 1970s. No new fields
have been drilled and no new refineries have been built since. In fact,
there are actually fewer refineries now as the oil companies shuttered
some in the late 1990s when oil was plentiful, thus dirt-cheap, and they
weren't profitable to keep running. And now that they're needed, these
refineries and fields cannot be returned to operation, even with what
Hurricane Katrina did to expose how critically needed they are.
• It is virtually impossible to begin any new oil wells or
refineries, thanks to the endless restrictions and regulations passed by
liberal politicians at the behest of the environmentalist wacko lobby.
No company has the time or money to jump through all those silly hoops.
(Which, ironically, suits the existing big oil companies just fine since
they'll never have any new competition to worry about - competition that
would help to bring prices down, as it always does.)
• The cumulative effect of the above is to needlessly and severely
constrict supply throughout the entire system. Low supply combined with
steadily increasing demand equals high prices. (Not that the liberals
decrying this will ever admit that they are largely responsible for
causing it. Perhaps they're too busy counting their 30 percent cut of
the profits, taken via the corporate income tax from the oil companies.
Do I hear the phrase "tax gouging" entering the lexicon?)
• The two ways to solve the above are to increase supply or
decrease demand. Since, by definition, you cannot conserve your way out
of a shortage (in other words, there's only so far you can stretch an
already limited amount), that only leaves increasing supply as a
solution in the near future (i.e. the next 50 years). And since we have
plenty available within our own territory, there you go.
• "Alternative fuels" are a total pipe-dream for right now. Ethanol
actually consumes more energy to produce from corn than gasoline from
crude oil, is very difficult (and thus expensive) to transport and would
cost quite a bit more per gallon than gasoline if not so heavily
subsidized by taxpayers. Why is it so heavily subsidized in spite of it
all? Because incumbent congressmen and senators get re-elected by
verbally sucking up to farmers (and blasting anyone who dares to tell
the truth as a farmer-hater) while shoveling money at agricultural
companies like Archer-Daniels-Midland, who return a large share of it in
campaign contributions. So politicians not only block us from obtaining
our own oil, they also make us subsidize an expensive boondoggle on top
of it. (Though I'd gladly give them their ethanol if they'd just give us
some more oil and refineries in return.)
• If the whole hybrid engine/electric car phenomenon is ever to
take off on a wide scale, a massive upgrade of the nation's electrical
grid and many new power plants will be needed. (You can probably guess
the environmentalists' position on that one.) There are already rolling
blackouts in California and New York every time the summer temperature
nears 100 degrees and everyone turns on their air conditioners. And now
we're supposed to add the electrical consumption of millions of vehicles
on top of that? Shyeah, right. We need to build more nuclear power
plants (which also stopped in the 1970s), both to accommodate increased
demand (with or without that coming fleet of electric cars) and to
replace older, dirtier coal and natural gas fired plants. But just as
with oil refineries, this is all but impossible to accomplish thanks to
endless regulatory hurdles. (Heck, the envirowackos react to the phrase
"nuclear power" about as well as Dracula does to crucifixes and
Beyond the above, there is one huge political reason to
dramatically increase domestic oil
supply - so that we no longer have to depend on a monopoly made up
mostly of America-hating evil-thug dictators out to perpetually
blackmail us and potentially route the proceeds to our enemies. Having a
sufficient domestic supply of energy resources and the infrastructure to
handle all contingencies from human error to natural disaster without
major interruption is a national security imperative. And those who
stand in the way of it – from the Sierra Club and Greenpeace to the
Democrat senators who instantly filibuster ANWR drilling bills upon
their orders, to a media that blatantly propagandizes for them – need to
be exposed once and for all as the seditionists they are. (Sadly,
though, seeing how quick the GOP has been to imitate liberals in an
election year, I'm not getting my hopes up.)
Oh, and one last fact: The caribou population in Prudhoe Bay has
grown fivefold since oil production began there 30 years ago. So the
next time you hear an environmentalist (or just your average,
garden-variety ignorant liberal) worrying about what ANWR drilling will
do to Bambi and his brethren, know that this person is simply full of
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