President Bush seems to have gone “green” in his energy policy. His State of the Union address resonated with themes John Kerry argued against him in the 2004 presidential election campaign. What happened to the defense of drilling in the ANWR? Evidently the solution to America’s dependence upon foreign oil is to use more biofuels, adapt our cars to ethanol and invest more in research. Who knows, maybe we will come up with the non-exploding nuclear battery, so we can all forget about the energy crisis once and for all?
Has Bush forgotten his roots in the oil industry? The Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy reports that today there are 1.28 trillion barrels of proven oil reserves, more than ever in human history, despite world consumption of oil doubling since the 1970s. Very possibly “peak oil” is just another energy oil hoax. The first reports that we were running out of oil came in the late-1880s when the U.S. Geological Survey began worrying that no more oil would be found in Texas or California. These days, President Bush talking about oil is sounding a lot like Jimmy Carter. On April 18, 1977, in an address televised to the nation, President Carter said that in the 1980’s the world would begin running out of oil. A quarter century later and the EIA still reports we have more oil worldwide than ever. How could that be if we are truly running out?
The 2005 federal energy bill allocated approximately $6 billion in federal funds to assist in the development of ethanol plants around the country. But is ethanol really fuel efficient? A recent analysis conducted by David Pimentel, professor of ecology and agriculture at Cornell University, and Tad Patzek, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, came to the conclusion that the production of ethanol burns up more hydrocarbon fuels than it saves. Taking into account the production of pesticides and fertilizers needed to grow the corn in the first place, the running of farm machinery and irrigation, the grounding and transporting corn to the ethanol plant, and the fermentation and distillation of ethanol from the water mix, the two scientists concluded that corn requires the expenditure of 29 percent more hydrocarbon energy than was saved by the resulting ethanol. Maybe that’s why the ethanol industry would most likely collapse if the federal subsidies went away.
Let’s go in a different direction. Oil companies last year made a record-breaking $100 billion in profits last year. How about if we take away tax breaks unless the oil companies work to increase supply? We have not built a new refinery in America in the last thirty years. Right now, we are tempted to question whether the oil companies have begun to embrace radical environmentalists because both want to reduce supply. America has abundant oil, in the shale oil of the Rocky Mountains, offshore in the Gulf and off both coasts, as well as in Alaska. At $70 a barrel oil wells across the country are being re-opened to recover oil left in the ground at lower prices. These same oil companies who are recording record profits are also sitting on record reserves.
Perhaps President Bush ought to consider drilling our way out of this crisis. Would someone please send President Bush a good conservative book on oil? Otherwise, the administration is beginning to sound like the Democratic Party, blaming America by asking us to do is to “go green,” resolving to abandon our profligate “oil addiction.”
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