You’ve probably seen by now the news reports that the House has again voted to open the Artic up for drilling. And you’ve probably seen the same hysterical arguments on both sides of the aisle as to why this is either a) a windfall to the evil oil companies b) the solution to America’s energy woes, c) an environmental disaster waiting to happen, e) a diversion because nobody wants to tackle the real solution (i.e. conservation), etc etc. Any moment now I’m going to get an email from Robert Redford and the NRDC claiming a) and e). And the proposal will fail in the Senate again.
While I’m not a huge proponent of drilling in the Artic and off the Gulf Coast, there are certain realities that must be factored in. The biggest not so much being the use of oil, but the fact that most of the oil used by the world comes from countries that either hate us or covertly support terrorism against the west. I’m all for reducing the amount of oil that we use, but in the meantime, I want us to be able to control our own oil, without having to either fight wars or support terrorist supporting regimes.
So how’s this for a novel solution. Tie drilling to conservation. IN other words, the only way the Artic and the Gulf coast get opened for drilling is to immediately increase the CAFE standards for mileage. And not small smoke and mirrors increases either. Real meaningful increases that would start to impact us the same time the oil from the Artic would start flowing. The oil companies (who do stand to benefit from Artic drilling) would have to fund some of the research needed to increase gas mileage. Overall oil usage would go down, and less of the oil that we do use would be imported. This situation is crying out for a win-win compromise.
Bill Frist is claiming that one of the reasons for high oil prices is Bill Clinton. That’s because President Clinton refused to open up the Artic for drilling. And you know what, Senator Frist is right. But President Bush, Senator Frist and all their predecessors are also to blame for not increasing CAFE in any meaningful way, especially after 9-11.
So how about it, lets stop the hyperbole and the accusations, and get on with it. We need increased oil production in the US in the short term, and we need meaningful and forceful conservation programs to go along with that.