It seems we have dodged another bullet in our cost of energy as oil prices have plummeted and gas is preparing to drop below $2.00 a gallon, down from inching just over $4.00 a gallon earlier this summer during the campaign.
Such high costs put a crimp in our living standards and hurt everybody as we stopped driving as much, stopped buying new cars and had to pay increased prices for nearly everything that had to be shipped over the road by truck. We cried out about it and the candidates responded with promises of increased energy efficiency requirements to partially lifting the decades long ban on drilling our own oil supplies.
At one time both major presidential candidates opposed lifting the ban on offshore drilling of our own oil, but the high prices Americans paid at the pumps and the outrage expressed over it has encouraged both to revise their opposition at least partly.
After allowing the drilling ban to expire, Democrats initially let it be known that they might re-impose drilling bans offshore with the new presidents administration.
Today, November 19, 2008, Steny Hoyer (D. Md.) said that his party
“will not push to reinstate a ban on offshore oil and natural-gas drilling next year,” adding “there will be serious discussion as to the ‘parameters’ to which offshore drilling will be pursued.”
Shortly after Hoyer’s comment, the American Petroleum Institute released the following statement,
“We believe the position outlined to news reporters by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer - that the Democratic leadership would not seek to re-impose the ban on oil and natural gas leasing in federal waters - is the right approach. The American public has made clear its strong support for increased access to untapped domestic oil and natural gas resources. At least two-thirds of Americans in recent exit polling said they supported offshore drilling. Neither Congress nor the next administration should set unreasonable, arbitrary limits on leasing because such restrictions could remove some of the nation’s most promising oil and natural gas prospects for development, and the industry has proven it can develop these resources in an environmentally safe manner. The industry stands ready to help put America’s vast energy resources to good use to strengthen our nation's economy and energy security, generate billions of dollars for the benefit of our federal and state treasuries and provide good jobs for Americans across the country.”
While API stands ready to help America in our quest for energy independence, I am troubled by Hoyer’s call for “serious discussion as to the ‘parameters’ to which offshore drilling will be pursued.”
Cathy Landry, a spokeswoman for API shares my concern as she said,
“When they’re talking about ‘parameters,’ we should point out that putting arbitrary limits on development, whether that’s [prohibiting drilling within] 100 miles from shore, or whatever they’re thinking, could take some of the most promising domestic resources off the table,” adding, “So we would caution them to really look at what they’re doing and learn about what’s out there before they take action. It could potentially keep some of our nation’s best prospects from being developed.”
Younger Americans may not remember, but this isn’t the first time our dependence of foreign oil has drained our personal budgets. We saw this before in 1973 and 1979 with an increase in oil prices from foreign sources in 1990, while we let our own oil resources sit idle in the ground offshore and within the country itself.
Opposition to drilling our own ranges from environmentalists who’d prefer we go back to walking and riding bicycles to politicians who cry oil companies hold leases to lands to drill already, disregarding that the oil reserves aren’t located on those lands.
Drilling and refining our own oil not only decreases our dependence on foreign lands oil, that are often hostile to us, it stands to create more jobs which results in increased tax revenues for the treasury. In a letter to Congress, Jack Gerard, President and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute said in part,
“The U.S. oil and natural gas industry supports approximately 6 million jobs – 1.8 million people directly employed by the industry, with more than 4 million indirect jobs. Expanded access creates more job opportunities – and many of these jobs pay more than double the national average. In addition, oil and natural gas development on federal lands, both onshore and offshore, means billions of dollars for the U.S. Treasury and state governments in the form of royalties, bonus bids, rentals, severance taxes, corporate income taxes and property taxes.”
Sharing in my own sentiments, Mr. Gerard adds,
“Now that the campaigns are over, the time is right for a fresh start on energy. The American people have shown overwhelming support for increased domestic oil and natural gas development. Election Day exit polls found two-thirds of voters favor offshore drilling where it is not currently allowed.”
We have survived another wake up call, America. As oil prices slide back down, we cannot let ourselves be lulled back to sleep and continue our dependence on foreign countries for our energy needs. We have several energy resources right here within our own borders to utilize. We have several alternative energy resources in the works, but they have yet to be perfected. Petroleum remains our best bet for the right now. It’s the most economical in energy returned. And, it is available, if we will demand our politicians get out of the way and stay out of the way of obtaining it.
API has made available a 16-page booklet, Policies for America’s Future: Restoring Our Economic Strength and Shaping Our Energy Future, outlining the Oil and Natural Gas Industry’s costs, taxes and profitability and how our energy resources are not being adequately used currently. Policy recommendations are also listed on page 13.
It’s about time we citizens of America woke up and see that our energy costs are tied to nearly every part of our society. From what it cost to drive our cars to what we pay for groceries, to the comfort of our homes, we have serious energy needs. We have the resources available within our own country to met these needs and meet them in environmentally safe ways.
We must declare energy independence and stand on our own. We can no longer afford to be held hostage by foreign lands that aren’t afraid to use their energy sources as weapons against us.
We will perfect alternative energy sources, but in the mean time, we must use what we have available today. We must let our politicians know we want energy independence and they must support obtaining our own resources, offshore as well as onshore.
We must let them know we will not support imposing restrictive taxes on the industry that is working towards our energy independence nor will we accept higher energy taxes on our own individual energy consumption.
We have been promised “change” and we must demand that change include reasonable energy costs and energy independence.
The campaign rhetoric is over and now it is time to deliver.