We cannot drill our way out of our pending oil and energy situation. There, I said it. OK? OK. There is no way we can actually drill enough holes in the earth to meet all of our current (never mind future) energy needs. It’s not possible.
Of course, we hear now that America is producing more barrels of oil – and even exporting a lot of it – then we have in a long, long time. That’s great, I suppose. But oil is a finite resource, no matter how you slice it. The more we drill out now, the less we will have for a shorter amount of time. In fact, we only have 3-5% of all the oil in the entire world under our soil and eventually it will run out. Not a person on Earth will tell you that it will last forever. So how can more drilling be the future of energy production? It can’t… but that won’t stop us. Why?
Because the oil companies own many of our government officials.
Shortsighted as ever, many of our elected officials are ok with allowing oil companies to drill anywhere and everywhere – mainly because some of those profits end up in campaign coffers come election years. But in the real world, where these people don’t live, there are many reasons why opening up more of our public lands for drilling is not, and never will be, a good solution:
- The Department of Energy has said that lifting the ban on more offshore exploration on the outer continental shelf would not have a significant impact on crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. That is 20 years from now – that’s a long time for Americans to make big changes and invest in new technologies!
- The oil and gas industry still has well over 64 million acres of land that has been granted to them to explore on – which they have not even started using. According to some studies, exploiting this land could possibly double U.S. oil production. Why would we permit more exploration when they have not even used so much of what we already granted them? That makes no sense whatsoever.
- Even if they started licensing anywhere the oil companies wanted to go, it takes an average of 2 years for the licensing process to complete, and an additional 5 years for any significant amount of oil to show up. Don’t believe anyone when they say drilling will bring down gas prices right away; it won’t.
- While the number of drilling permits issued has increased by something like 360% over the last 10 years, gas prices have tripled during the same period. More drilling does not equal lower prices at the pump. Don’t believe anyone when they say drilling will bring down gas prices right away; it won’t.
- According to the Energy Information Administration back in 2004, opening an Alaska wildlife refuge to drilling would only lower oil prices by less than 50 cents a barrel. Yes, a barrel, not a gallon.
- It is the estimate of the American Petroleum Institute that opening our waters to more drilling would be unlikely to provide Americans with more oil for at least 7 to 10 years. And if they are admitting that…
No matter how you look at it, opening up more new lands for drilling make no sense – the oil companies have millions of acres they already have permits for, any oil found would lower the price of a barrel by a mere $.50 (if that), and it could take years for the oil to show up in our supply line. Does that make any sense as a national policy? Not quite. At least it doesn’t to me; but then again I don’t have coffers full of oil money, either. If we invested the amount of money that the oil companies would have to invest in all this new drilling, I am sure we could accomplish at least the following:
- Put a solar panel or 3 on every single new house that gets built, no exceptions
- Open up our windy deserts to fields of wind turbines and solar panels
- Subsidize electric cars for the masses
- Increase fuel efficiency standards to a level that actually makes a difference – like 40 or 50 MPG for any and all cars sold in America
- Continue (and increase) tax incentives for using renewable energy at home
Try as we may – and we are – the oil is going to run out. We can see the cliff already; to continue running towards it is absolutely silly. We need to use the oil we still have in a smart manner in order to enable an oil-free future. More drilling is not the solution; it is only hurrying up the end of oil.