Saturday, November 05, 2005

To Drill or Not to Drill

This vote today sends a signal to OPEC and the rest of the world that America is serious about meeting more of its own energy needs. America will not let our consumers or our economy be held hostage to runaway global oil prices.
—Sen. Pete Domenici, New Mexico, Chair Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

We need to give our children a future less dependent on fossil fuel. According to the Energy Department's latest analysis, even if oil companies drill in the [Arctic National] Wildlife Refuge and hit peak production, it will only lower gas prices by a penny per gallon.
—Sen. Maria Cantwell, Washington

Last week, an almost evenly divided (51-48) Senate declined to strip language from the pending budget bill that would allow oil development in Area 1002 of the Coastal Plain bordering Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This cleared the way to pass the budget bill and let slip in the back door a provision the Senate refused to include as part of legislation that is actually supposed to deal with energy issues — the Energy Bill.

How nifty, setting loose oil companies in ANWR without actually having to go on record in favor of it. Senator Domenici proclaims the passage a blow for increased energy independence, although it's hard to see OPEC shaking. The Energy Information Administration projected that ANWR production will possibly begin around 2010, with peak production 20-30 years after that.

Meanwhile, no sign of slowing the giant sucking sound that is far more responsible than OPEC for our vulnerability.

I make it a personal policy not to get depressed over knee-jerk generalities, so I spent substantial time trying to form a reasoned position on ANWR — to drill or not to drill? — and I come out on the question like some damn Hamlet. Partly, because it's complicated with multiple sides, but mostly because somebody is going to want that oil very badly someday.

Like virtually everything in American political life today, the ANWR posturing has little to do with actually solving the big honking issue that really matters — the world we're leaving our grandchildren. The concern is not likely to be whether they can save a penny at the gas pumps or watch bird migrations while freezing their asses off. It'll be how they and their grandchildren are going to heat buildings and transport people and products without oil. And unfortunately, the fossils in today's Congress won't be sufficient to serve as an alternative source of fuel.

I'll continue this topic in forthcoming posts...


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