More Drilling is Not The Solution We Need for Our Energy Future

iStock_000006659996XSmallWe 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.


More Drilling is Not The Solution We Need for Our Energy Future — 9 Comments

  1. Hey David, what’s your opinion on drilling for natural gas like they’ve been doing lately? I live along the PA/NY border and the Marsalles (sp?)Shale area is huge here. Within the past two years gas companies have made this area (and most of PA) a boon town area. Although I see little in benefits overall for the local people here since land, rent and taxes rose while housing has become short.

    And yes, I agree with the oil drilling problem. I wrote a piece a few years ago about why we keep drilling when there is so many other options. There’s also way too many issues with oil spills, fracking, seepage, contaminated water and soil – need we go on?

  2. In my region people act like resources are infinite, even when they have a hard time paying their bills. Regulations are few. I wish they would start more sustainable projects.

  3. We are just perpetuating an unsustainable energy policy and doing irreparable damage to the planet. We need to be investing in clean technologies that can be sustainable long-term. Wasteful programs such as corn ethanol which requires more energy to produce than we get out of it drain financial resources that could be invested in clean technologies. In addition, food prices have increased unnecessarily because of the higher government subsidies for farmers who switch from other crops to corn.

  4. Come on people, at one point we are going to run out of natural resources, at least save some of the resources up for others.
    Thanks for the great read,

  5. David, first of all a great article, thanks.

    I see you are an activist. What can us newbies in this subject area, who happen to agree with your view point (i.e. “the facts”) do to help?

    On the micro scale I can buy a bike and switch to renewable electricity in my home, drive less or not at all and try to use as little electricity as possible as well as products made using oil. You get the point I am making anyway, these are all small scale things to help and while very noble unless everyone in the developed world started doing them simultaneously they are not going to make much difference at this point in time (but I will still try to do them anyway of course).

    So onto helping out in the macro world: changing public opinion and political policy, and maybe even the way large global corporations conduct business with regards to energy consumption, what can we do?

    Would you recommend writing to my local or national political representative? Any campaigns we can sign up to? Anything else that a newbie would just not think of doing?
    It would have been nice to have some of this information in the article itself I think, otherwise we are all just sitting here blowing hot air, which no doubt is not helping climate change in the slightest 🙂

    Also maybe another article on this would be good to highlight it better rather than just keeping it in the comments as well?


  6. Hmm… bit dissapointed there has been no reply to my comment if I’m honest. Thought this could be a good springboard for some good discussion?! Come on David or Blog owner… let’s hear ya!?!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I appreciate your readership and really enjoy hearing your thoughts on different topics. Thank you for contributing to the discussion.