(June 4, 2008) It's easy to blame our current predicament of high gasoline prices on insufficient oil production or export by OPEC. It's more difficult to blame ourselves for passivity and lack of resolve. There's no question that OPEC could help alleviate the situation. But we could do the same on our own, and, at the same time, stop the majority of our dependence on foreign oil.
If we can get our lawmakers to put aside politics and special interests, we could roll back the price of gas considerably. An example of the kind of nonsense that's keeping us from increasing our own oil production is the haggling over whether or not to allow oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
Objections to oil exploration in ANWR have come mostly from environmental groups who worry about endangering the caribou (reindeer). However, only 1.5 million acre, or 8%, on the northern coast of ANWR is being considered for development, while the remaining 17.5 million acres, 92%, of ANWR will remain closed to development. If oil is discovered, less than 2000 acres of the over 1.5 million acres of the Coastal Plain would be affected -- that's less than one half of one percent.
With the hardships Americans are beginning to experience over high gas prices, should exploration in ANWR even be an issue? ANWR should have been opened for exploration as soon as gas hit $2 per gallon.
U.S. companies are barred from drilling off the coast of Florida because of environmental concerns. Yet, China signed an agreement with Cuba to drill for oil in Cuban waters. Since Cuba is only 90 miles from Florida, and Jimmy Carter, in his legendary witless "wisdom," gave Cuba half those waters for economic purposes, we could see oil rigs as close as 45 miles off Florida's shores.
Which means, we'll likely be the recipient of whatever environmental damage that might come out of drilling for oil near Florida, but China will be the recipient of the oil.
To add insult to injury, there are reports that China is planning to slant drill. That is, while in Cuban waters, they can slant drill to tap into our oil reserves.
So, we get the pollution, China gets the oil, and, on top of that, China gets our oil. What brilliant environmentalist sees this as a solution to anything?
The Florida shores should have been opened for drilling by U.S. companies the moment China signed an agreement with Cuba.
We have an oil crisis in the U.S. because of twisted priorities. It's one thing to worry about the environment when there's little or no downside. But when the downside is extreme hardship to the vast majority of Americans, environmental concerns, unless they're an obvious imminent threat to life or health, should be put aside.
The notion that there are moronic, dimwitted individuals and groups who are more concerned about the reindeer in Alaska than Americans on Main Street, is just mind-boggling.
Almost as bad is the passivity of the average American. TV interview after interview of people on the street who are asked what they think of the high gas prices, respond to the effect of, "Well, we'll just have to change our vacation plans," or "We'll have to cut down on" this or that. There seems to be no outrage over our lawmakers buckling under pressure from a small minority of special interest groups.
When a horse is killed accidentally in Central Park, there is immediate outrage by animal activists about changing laws to protect animals. (I'm an animal lover myself. I've had cats, birds, a dog, and other animals.) I certainly do not suggest condoning cruelty to animals. But when animals elicit more consideration and respect than humans, that's not a love of animals -- that's a distorted sense of reality and an irrational contempt for one's fellow human beings.
If average Americans gathered in front of their lawmakers' offices in support of "human rights," protesting environmental-related restrictions on oil exploration with the same outrage as some nuts scream for animal rights, we could have cheap gas in the near future. (When gas prices go down considerably and our economy gets back on track, we can start worrying again about the environment.)
Average Americans far outnumber the individuals who comprise environmental groups. If we let our voices be heard in support of "human rights," it will undoubtedly drown out the opposition.
To do with less when you don't have to, makes no sense. I'm all for conservation of energy, loose leaf paper and whatever, even when they're in abundant supply. But teaching conservation is one thing, imposing deprivation as another. We have plenty of oil, let's use it.
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