Column: Were All To Blame For Current Energy Crisis

This story was written by C. G. Shields, The Daily Athenaeum


As a city, as a state and as a country, we use too much gasoline.

I dont need to tell you this; you all know it. Spiraling gas prices havent reduced our traffic snarls by even one car and probably never will.

There are still plenty of trucks and SUVs on the road and no shortage of imports tiny enough to be powered by hamsters running on wheels, outfitted instead with absurdly enormous engines and extra-loud duel exhausts.

Look at us. Were ridiculous, all of us. We just dont need to use as much fuel as we do.

I am as guilty as you, because I have chosen a job as a delivery driver, I like my hot water really hot, and I leave my computer on all day and all night.

Compared to the size it should be, my carbon footprint looks like evidence of Sasquatch. But at least I am no hypocrite: I know what I do, and I know I must do better. We all must.

We call it an addiction. We all agree, more or less, in the existence of this phenomenon, and we would all like to see something done about it.

But herein lies the problem. We demand that someone else do something about: Congress, the president, Exxon Mobil, OPEC. We are not interested in even pondering our own responsibility for all of this.

If we agree that this is an addiction, then we have to agree that increasing supply, whether through more domestic drilling or more production by OPEC, is not the solution. Finding a way to get more of what you are addicted to is no cure for an addiction.

Our presidential candidates have offered only sham fixes. A summer gas tax holiday will eliminate revenue for highway funds and allow oil companies to pocket profits from a sharp demand spike while delivering no significant price relief to the consumer.

A windfall profits tax will drive down supply in the short term, increasing prices, while having no effect on long-term supply or demand, thereby solving nothing. Increased domestic drilling will create more supply in the intermediate term a decade or so but with negative environmental impacts the long term costs of which may outweigh the benefit of stabilizing prices at the pump.

What we need is something this country is not good at doing and never has been good at doing.

We need a comprehensive approach involving careful management of every aspect federal and state taxes, corporate subsidies, consumer demand, foreign imports, domestic drilling, strategic reserves, price speculation, the refinement process, transportation and delivery.

We need a plan.

The federal government subsidizes oil exploration and extraction, but more than sixty-two percent of federal land is off-limits, and states like California and Florida heavily restrict off-shore exploration. Then, at the consumer end, states heavily tax the product the federal government has attempted to subsidize.

This is no plan.

Oil companies receive subsidies to invest in new technologies. They reinvest not in research to improve efficiency but in a multibillion dollar pipeline in Kazakhstan (greatest country in the world).

This is no plan.

The President of the United States travels to Saudi Arabia and humiliates himself before that violent, oppressive nations tin pot king like a beggar seeking alms. The Saudis reinvest their oil profits in (among who knows what else) payment to radical imams and lavish playgrounds for the royal family.

This is no plan.

But I hate to make this all sound more complicated than it really is. We just need to do a few simple things.

Dont drive as much, and lose the big engines when you do./p>

Use less home heating oil.

Use less rubber and plastic.

Get China to stop with the explosive economic growth already. Stop subsidizing oil companies for things they dont do.

Stop taxing gasoline so much and relying on those taxes to maintain highways.

Build zero-emissions vehicles and hydrogen fuel cells and hybrid cars with cost-efficient batteries. Forget Saudi Arabia and Venezuela; Texas has one million working oil wells while Iraq has two thousand.

Lets get that insurgency beaten and start drilling.

Round up the price speculators who invest in oil futures with no intent to ever buy a single barrel of oil, call them unlawful combatants and ship them to Guantanamo Bay.

Drill in ANWR and in the Rocky Mountain shale deposits in a way that is not environmentally destructive.

If we can all come together and do these things, we will never need to worry about the price of gasoline and the domino effect that price has on a transportation-driven economy, ever again. Its easy enough.

Why hasnt anyone else thought of this?
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