By Alan Caruba
In early March, President Bush, addressing an International Renewable Energy Conference, was widely quoted saying that the United States has to “get off oil.” Earlier he had said that America was “addicted” to oil. These are such huge lies one wonders why he is telling them, unless perhaps he has quietly been investing in ethanol production.
For the record, “renewable” energy refers to solar and wind energy for electricity, and biofuels for transportation. None of these options can ever be expected to provide the electric energy America uses, nor will biofuels ever replace oil for transportation.
In one of the most brilliant analysis of America’s dependency on oil, “Gusher of Lies”, by Robert Bryce, the author spells out the realities of a world in which, not just the United States, but all nations are going to be importing oil for as long as crude can be pumped from places around the world that include the Middle East, Russia, Africa, South America, and the deep ocean waters.
The problem is not a lack of known reserves of oil. The problem is the way the lack of knowledge by the consuming public is being exploited.
Yes, the price of a barrel of oil has reached and surpassed $107, but that price is subject to a myriad of factors that have nothing to do with scarcity. As OPEC president, Chakib Khelil, told reporters recently, “There is sufficient supply. There’s plenty of oil there.” He’s telling the truth. One factor is the falling value of the U.S. dollar. Oil that is priced in Euros has not risen nearly as much.
“Energy independence,” says Bryce, “is hogwash. From nearly any standpoint—economic, military, political, or environmental—energy independence makes no sense. Worse yet, the inane obsession with the idea of energy independence is preventing the U.S. from having an honest and effective discussion about the energy challenges it now faces.”
Nowhere is this more obvious in the campaigns of the Democrat and Republican candidates. John McCain, the GOP nominee, is committed to the global warming hoax that is based on the lie that the use of all forms of energy is contributing “greenhouse gas” emissions at such a rate the Earth is warming dramatically. It isn’t. There isn’t a scintilla of scientific data to demonstrate this. It has warmed about one degree Fahrenheit—naturally—since the end of the mini-ice age in 1850.
The Democrat candidates are no better on the subject of energy and Sen. Clinton is on record wanting to seize the profits of “Big Oil” and divert them to ever more research into alternative energy options. Take the case of ExxonMobil whose profits—after you factor in the billions it spends on exploration, extraction, refining and distribution—have been the same for years, about ten percent. Over the past three years, this one oil company has paid an average of $27 billion a year in taxes to the federal government, about 41 percent of the company’s taxable income.
Bryce points out that, “The reality is that the world—and the energy business in particular—is becoming ever more inter-dependent. And this interdependence will likely accelerate in the years to come as new supplies of fossil fuel become more difficult to find and more expensive to produce.”
”Energy independence, at its root, means protectionism and isolationism, both of which are in direct opposition to America’s long-term interests in the Persian Gulf and globally.”
U.S. energy policies, tragically, are leaving us ever more vulnerable to the uncertainties of the global oil market. Congress prohibits exploration and extraction of oil and natural gas from 85% of the nation’s continental shelf. It prohibits access to the oil in Alaska’s ANWR. It has mandated that gasoline be refined in numerous different blends and that ethanol—a huge subsidized scam—be added to it, reducing its efficiency while increasing its cost. On top of that, it taxes gasoline, adding over 40 cents to every gallon that consumers purchase.
Predictably, when consumers, oblivious to the realities of the global oil market and everything else involved with delivering gasoline at the pump, begin to complain, politicians begin to think about regulating gasoline prices. It doesn’t work and it will likely worsen the Recession we’re in.
It was tried by the Carter administration and was a full-scale disaster. Between 1978 and 1980, thanks in part to the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, crude oil prices more than doubled from about $9 a barrel to over $21. Back then, Carter was advocating solar energy, conservation, synthetic fuels, and other “solutions”, but they didn’t work then and they won’t work now.
In terms of our enormous energy needs, Congress and the White House are seriously mismanaging America.
Energy is the “master resource.” Without it everything else slows, stalls, and stops. The nation’s economy is entirely dependent on our ability to function in a world where oil, natural gas, and coal are global commodities. They don’t have a nationality. They have a price. And that is set by supply and demand, not the federal government.
The government is literally wasting billions on “alternative forms” of energy and “climate change.” It should be encouraging the building of more refineries, more nuclear fission, coal or gas-fired plants to generate electricity, more pipelines. It should be eliminating the restrictions on access oil, gas, and coal within and these sources from beyond our nation’s borders.
The President, the candidates competing to be the next President, and members of Congress are all lying to Americans about the realities of energy. The situation is likely to get much worse before it ever becomes better.
(c) Alan Caruba, March 2008