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15.07.2014

To Drill or Not to Drill: That is the Question

IUF Research Associate: Jonathan Hessling

So I was reading a couple of articles on the legislation in the United States that was stopped before it began on the possible drilling of off-shore locations for an increase in the domestic oil production of the US. The bill was designed to allow lands, that were previously off limits, to be accessed for use in drilling to increase the domestic supply of oil in the US and help brunt some of the increase in costs on the amount per barrel. Many politicians saw this as a way to help the consumer absorb some of the cost that they were paying at the pump, while others saw this as a "big oil" or "anti-environmental" movement aimed at furthering the destruction of the planet. Either way, the end solution would have been an increase in supply on the market which would have been used to help meet the current demand and bring down some of the prices. So the question is why would politicians, whose job it is to protect the people and help enhance the economy of a given country fight so hard to stop a bill that has the potential to aid the economy, the people, and the world market?  

 

As an American, I am a little disappointed in my elected body. These people, who most average Americans assume to be educated and out to protect the people they represent, end up protecting the power they gain by becoming elected officials. In a recent Consumer Reports survey, 77% of Americans believe that the US Congress is to blame for the rise in oil prices. This survey actually goes against what is being told in the media who tells the American public that "Big Oil, OPEC, and Oil Speculators" are to blame for the rise in cost. Also according to a Zogby poll, 74% of Americans support the idea of drilling offshore to help increase supply and bring down the price of oil and gas at the pump. So if an overwhelming majority of citizens in a given country support an idea, then why does the elected body defy them? In America, Congress is supposed to represent the people that elected them, so where is the representing at? When your citizens call, write, or email in concerning and demands that Congress do something about the price of oil and you do nothing what does this mean? How do you justify sitting on your hands and not preparing for a future that is inevitable at this point and time?  

 

Congress will defend its' actions by saying that they are working to support "alternatives to oil" and that more drilling will only exacerbate the issue. That any drilling that is done now will not have any effect on the current price of gas and that it will take about 10 years for the new oil produced to have an effect on the market. So I ask, why not take the measures to make sure that in 10 years we aren't faced with another oil crisis by increasing oil production in the States. I will let you in on part of my thinking, which I hardly ever do, but I believe that mother nature and planet earth are important and that we should take care of them. I believe, however, that we must plan for the future in multiple directions. Plan for a future that is free from oil dependence, but also plan for a future that will take a while to reach that independence and make sure the people are taken care of until we reach that future that we want. The world, and especially America, is an impatient animal that wants what it wants now and does not want to wait. The problem is, is that the technology to make for a "cleaner tomorrow" is still years away and we are instituting policy that is inefficient to take care of the problems that we are facing today.  

 

I watched a movie the other day called Kung Fu Panda. As kid friendly as it was, there was a deeper meaning hidden inside one line of that movie. In the movie, the original Kung Fu master told his apprentice that "yesterday was history and tomorrow is a mystery but today is a gift, that is why they call it a present." Have we lost sight of the forest for the trees as the old saying goes? Are we so concerned with a possible future that we cannot and will not see the present? Inaction is the past, and I am talking decades here, has placed us in the situation that we are in at the present moment. Our in ability to see a future where the need for energy will soon be outpaced by our need for growth and development. We try so hard to protect the planet that we are hurting ourselves in the process. We are the stewards of this planet but we are also inhabitants as well and we must be able to live in the manner that we want to live. We evolved past the cave man and agrarian stage of our life. Why should we go back? Why should I want to go back to a life where "living off the earth" was the best thing I could do when now we are so much better off than we were? My parents built the home they have and the life that we have on the basis that I would create something much better for me and my kids. Why should I take all of the hard work and dedication of what they worked to achieve and throw it in their face and tell them that they were wrong and that I do not want better than they had?  

In an effort to spur along the conversation for increased drilling, President Bush lifted the executive order stopping drilling off-shore. This alone does not allow for drilling because Congress has to life the ban, but it places pressure on Congress and the elected officials to do something or take full responsibility for the increase in fuel prices when there were solutions to help with the price increases. Russia is currently looking into increased off shore drilling in the Arctic and many other countries are starting to drill off-shore more and more. And now OPEC and other oil producing countries have the ability to affect the market in very negative ways as seen by the recent action of Iran. The price of oil was starting drop and in what was seen as a show of force by the Iranian military, they launched a rocket showing that they were capable of hurting neighboring countries. With this action, the Iranian government was able to cause instability in the market because they are a heavy oil producing country. If they went to war, then oil production would drop and cause price increases. Their show of force was meaningless because it was old technology, but the show of force was enough to cause oil market to fluctuate and the prices began to increase again. Until we are free of foreign oil sources they will consistently have a choke hold on the international community. Domestic oil drilling, whether you are American, European, or from some place else should be a goal so as to free yourself from foreign influence. Prices will stabilize and the market will not be as volatile as it is now, but concerns over the environment and the need for alternative energy sources cloud our judgement.  

 

Drilling might not be an immediate solution to our problems, but it can help to keep us from having similar problems in the future. If we can stabilize the supply to meet our current and potential demands then, we have the ability to control our economy and set ourselves up to truly be independent of oil in the future. Fixing our energy policies and woes is not a single minded act. It takes many facets to complete this goal and we are arrogant to believe that one way is the only way to solve our problems. Both sides are so adamant about winning that we are not seeing the harm that the game is causing the players involved. The coaches are sacrificing players and resources left and right for the "greater good" but who will be there to enjoy the "greater good" if the game is concluded and it ends up in disaster? Ponder these questions and ask yourself what you can do to help end the madness and find some clarity to the issue of global warming and oil dependency. The people in most nations are capable of telling their government what they want and how they want it. The people in America have just become complacent to the idea that the people they elected actually do their jobs on the citizens behalf and not their own personal agenda. Americans moan and groan about the woes of life and the need for some sort of change but when push comes to shove they do not stand up and force their elected officials to take a stand to do something about it. Do something about it before it is too late. Take a stand and demand that your government, no matter where you live, take steps to secure not only your future but your present lifestyle. If you are not too careful, you might just see that current lifestyle destroyed for a possible future lifestyle that could be impossible to achieve in the end.  

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The following link will take you to the IUF English blog for this article and others concerning issues of a free market economy and society.  

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