The ignorance and stupidity that block domestic oil supplies

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/printpage/?url=http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/04/start_drilling.html

Start Drilling

By Robert Samuelson

WASHINGTON — What to do about oil? First it went from $60 to $80 a barrel, then from $80 to $100 and now to $120. Perhaps we can persuade OPEC to raise production, as some senators suggest; but this seems unlikely. The truth is that we’re almost powerless to influence today’s prices. We are because we didn’t take sensible actions 10 or 20 years ago. If we persist, we will be even worse off in a decade or two. The first thing to do: Start drilling.

It may surprise Americans to discover that the United States is the third-largest oil producer, behind Saudi Arabia and Russia. We could be producing more, but Congress has put large areas of potential supply off-limits. These include the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and parts of Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. By government estimates, these areas may contain 25-30 billion barrels of oil (against about 30 billion of proven U.S. reserves today) and 80 trillion cubic feet or more of natural gas (compared with about 200 tcf of proven reserves).

What keeps these areas closed are exaggerated environmental fears, strong prejudice against oil companies and sheer stupidity. Americans favor both “energy independence” and cheap fuel. They deplore imports — who wants to pay foreigners? — but oppose more production in the United States. Got it? The result is a “no-pain energy agenda that sounds appealing but has no basis in reality,” writes Robert Bryce in “Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of ‘Energy Independence.'”

Unsurprisingly, all three major presidential candidates tout “energy independence.” This reflects either ignorance (unlikely) or pandering (probable). The United States now imports about 60 percent of its oil, up from 42 percent in 1990. We’ll import lots more for the foreseeable future. The world uses 86 million barrels of oil a day, up from 67 mbd in 1990. The basic cause of exploding prices is that advancing demand has virtually exhausted the world’s surplus production capacity, says analyst Douglas MacIntyre of the Energy Information Administration. The result: Any unexpected rise in demand or threat to supply triggers higher prices.

The best we can do is to try to influence the global balance of supply and demand. Increase our supply. Restrain our demand. With luck, this might widen the worldwide surplus of production capacity. Producers would have less power to exact ever-higher prices, because there would be more competition among them to sell. OPEC loses some leverage; its members cheat. Congress took a small step last year by increasing fuel economy standards for new cars and light trucks from 25 to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. (And yes, we need a gradually rising fuel tax to create a strong market for more-efficient vehicles.)

Increasing production also is important. Output from older fields, including Alaska’s North Slope, is declining. Although production from restricted areas won’t make the U.S. self-sufficient, it might stabilize output or even reduce imports. No one knows exactly what’s in these areas, because the exploratory work is old. Estimates indicate that production from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge might equal almost 5 percent of present U.S. oil use.

Members of Congress complain loudly about high oil profits ($40.6 billion for ExxonMobil last year) but frustrate those companies from using those profits to explore and produce in the United States. Getting access to oil elsewhere is increasingly difficult. Governments own three-quarters or more of proven reserves. Higher prices perversely discourage other countries from approving new projects. Flush with oil revenues, countries have less need to expand production. Undersupply and high prices then feed on each other.

But it’s hard for the United States to complain that other countries limit access to their reserves when we’re doing the same. If higher U.S. production reduced world prices, other countries might expand production. What they couldn’t get from prices they’d try to get from greater sales.

On environmental grounds, the alternatives to more drilling are usually worse. Subsidies to ethanol made from corn have increased food prices and used scarce water, with few benefits. If oil is imported, it’s vulnerable to tanker spills. By contrast, local production is probably safer. There were 4,000 platforms operating in the Gulf of Mexico when hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit. Despite extensive damage, there were no major spills, says Robbie Diamond of Securing America’s Future Energy, an advocacy group.

Perhaps oil prices will drop when some long-delayed projects begin production or if demand slackens. But the basic problem will remain. Though dependent on foreign oil, we might conceivably curb the power of foreign producers. But this is not a task of a month or a year. It is a task of decades; new production projects take that long. If we don’t start now, our future dependence and its dangers will grow. Count on it.

Copyright 2008, Washington Post Writers Group

Page Printed from: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2008/04/start_drilling.html at April 30, 2008 – 11:13:15 AM CDT

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Liberals are right about the “Right-wing Noise Machine.” It really is a wonder to behold, and last week it was performing like a well-tuned NASCAR race car.

From: http://www.americanthinker.com/printpage/?url=http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/04/america_you_have_been_had.html

April 29, 2008
America, You Have Been Had
By Christopher Chantrill

“Liberals are right about the “Right-wing Noise Machine.”  It really is a wonder to behold, and last week it was performing like a well-tuned NASCAR race car.  They say that liberals are all prepared for the inevitable “swift-boating” of Barack Obama.  Look behind you, liberals.  It already happened and, like last time, it was an own-goal scored by liberals.

This time it’s Bill Moyers’ fault.  Why, oh why, Bill, did you decide that you had to put Reverend Wright up Bill Moyers Journal on April 25, 2008 so that we could all hear his side of the story [Shame on you Bill Moyers for such a pathetic puppy licking whitewash of the issues surrounding the inflammatory and deceptive Reverend Wright]?  You must know that the sooner Reverend Wright is rusticated to his $1.5 million house in a gated suburban Chicago development and never heard from again the better. 


So when Reverend Wright indicated on Bill Moyers’ show that his sermons had been taken out of context the eevil right-wing talk-show host Hugh Hewitt saw his opening.  He put the whole of Reverend Wright’s post 9/11 sermon and his post Iraqi Freedom sermon up on his website and ran them on his show in drive time.


I imagine that there wasn’t a single bitter “god-and-guns” right-wing knuckle-dragging conservative who didn’t have to stop the car to let the red mist of rage dissipate.


In his sermons Reverend Wright thoughtfully rehearses to an appreciative audience every humiliation ever suffered by African Americans in North America as though it had happened yesterday.  He does not even forget to include the Constitution’s relegation of slaves to the status of three-fifths of a person.  “Government lies!” he thunders again and again.  Just to be sure that nobody misses the point the able rhetorician directs each congregant to turn to the person next to her and say: “Government lies!”


The purpose of such a sermon is obvious.  It is to raise the consciousness of Reverend Wright’s congregants to fever pitch, to forge them into unity against their elected government, to prepare them for the moral equivalent of war.


It comes as a blow to the solar plexus to confront the fact that in urban African American communities all across America a frank racist hate-filled rhetoric is not merely condoned but actually celebrated.  We white conservatives have been taught for the last generation to button our lips and never to give utterance to a racist thought.  We thought that we were parties to a bargain: that if we shut up and truckled to the liberal race bullies sooner or later we would emerge from the post civil-rights era and its hypocrisies of affirmative action and diversity and we would ascend to the sunny green uplands of post-racism.


Now we hear the ravings of Reverend Wright and realize that we have been had.  While we were buttoning our lips and attending compulsory diversity seminars liberals were not holding up their end of the deal and neutralizing the Reverend Wrights of America and their vicious racist bile.  On the contrary, liberals were pumping them up!  We used to wonder how it could be that blacks voted 90 percent for Democrats.  How could this be, we wondered, when you can never get more that 60 percent of the rest of America to take sides on anything?

We instinctively felt that it had to take something extraordinary to create such “unity” in the African American community.  Now we know what it is.  It is not just a few loose cannons like Reverends Jackson and Sharpton.  It is, you might say, institutional.

I don’t think we yet realize what a watershed moment this is in American politics.  All of a sudden the veil has been ripped away from a sacred mystery and a horror revealed to an innocent world.

We know why this systemic and shameful horror has been allowed to pollute America.  The day that blacks stop voting 90-10 for Democrats is the day before the day that liberals will be out of a job.

Some things are just more important than peace, justice, and racial harmony in America.

But there is more to the Wright story than that.

It took me several days to realize what was wrong with the Reverend Wright’s sermonizing–apart from its general meanness and its hatred of America.  Finally, the penny dropped. 

Reverend Wright: didn’t you get the message?  The civil-rights struggle is over.  African Americans won.  You won perhaps the noblest, most stunning victory in all history.  Why do you daub its shimmering white marble monument with filth and bile?

A word to the wise, Reverend.  Winston Churchill said it best:  In defeat, defiance.  In victory, magnanimity.

After your army has won a great victory you change the rhetoric.  You stop the resentment and the defiance.  Instead you inaugurate a new rhetoric that celebrates the glorious victory and memorializes the Fallen as eternal heroes.  Even our liberal friends do this when they go on and on about how wonderful liberals passed wage and hour legislation, worker rights, Social Security, civil rights, women’s rights, gay and lesbian rights.

Reverend Wright, why don’t you preach a sermon each week for the rest of your life about the glorious victories of the civil-rights era? At the end of each sermon tell each parishioner to turn to her neighbor and say:  You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Obama understands that the real threat to his candidacy is less Hillary Clinton and John McCain than his own character and cultural attitudes

Charles Krauthammer scores heavily and accurately again about the Pied Piper from Chicago. The article below is found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/24/AR2008042402983_pf.html

Obama’s ‘Distractions’?

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, April 25, 2008; A23

Real change has never been easy. . . . The status quo in Washington will fight. They will fight harder than ever to divide us and distract us with ads and attacks from now until November.

Barack Obama,

Pennsylvania primary night speech

With that, Obama identified the new public enemy: the “distractions” foisted upon a pliable electorate by the malevolent forces of the status quo, i.e., those who might wish to see someone else become president next January. “It’s easy to get caught up in the distractions and the silliness and the tit for tat that consumes our politics” and “trivializes the profound issues” that face our country, he warned sternly. These must be resisted.

Why? Because Obama understands that the real threat to his candidacy is less Hillary Clinton and John McCain than his own character and cultural attitudes. He came out of nowhere with his autobiography already written, then saw it embellished daily by the hagiographic coverage and kid-gloves questioning of a supine press. (Which is why those “Saturday Night Live” parodies were so devastatingly effective.)

Then came the three amigos: Tony Rezko, the indicted fixer; Jeremiah Wright, the racist reverend; William Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist. And then Obama’s own anthropological observation that “bitter” working-class whites cling to guns and religion because they misapprehend their real class interests.

In the now-famous Pennsylvania debate, Obama had extreme difficulty answering questions about these associations and attitudes. The difficulty is understandable. Some of the contradictions are inexplicable. How does one explain campaigning throughout 2007 on a platform of transcending racial divisions, while in that same year contributing $26,000 to a church whose pastor incites race hatred?

What is Obama to do? Dismiss all such questions about his associations and attitudes as “distractions.” And then count on his acolytes in the media to wage jihad against those who have the temerity to raise these questions. As if the character and beliefs of a man who would be president are less important than the “issues.” As if some political indecency was committed when Obama was prevented from going through his latest — 21st and likely last — primary debate without being asked about Wright or Ayers or the tribal habits of gun-toting, God-loving Pennsylvanians.

Take Ayers. Obama makes it sound as if the relationship consists of having run into each other at the DMV. In fact, Obama’s political career was launched in a 1995 meeting at Ayers’s home. Obama’s own campaign says that they maintain “friendly” relations.

Obama’s defense is that he was 8 when Ayers and his Weather Underground comrades were planting bombs at the Pentagon, the U.S. Capitol and other buildings. True. But Obama was 40 when Ayers said publicly that he doesn’t regret setting bombs. Indeed, he said, “I feel we didn’t do enough.”

Would you maintain friendly relations with an unrepentant terrorist? Would you even shake his hand? To ask why Obama does is perfectly legitimate and perfectly relevant to understanding what manner of man he is.

Obamaphiles are even more exercised about the debate question regarding the flag pin. Now, I have never worn one. Whether anyone does is a matter of total indifference to me. But apparently not to Obama. He’s taken three affirmative steps in regard to flag pins. After Sept. 11, he began wearing one. At a later point, he stopped wearing it. Then last year he explained why: because it “became a substitute for, I think, true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security.”

Apart from the self-congratulatory fatuousness of that statement — as if in this freest of all countries, political self-expression is somehow scarce or dangerous or a sign of patriotic courage — to speak of pin-wearing as a sign of inauthentic patriotism is to make an issue of it yourself. For Obamaphiles to now protest the very asking of the question requires a fine mix of cynicism and self-righteousness.

But Obama needs to cast out such questions as illegitimate distractions because they are seriously damaging his candidacy. As people begin to learn about this just-arrived pretender, the magic dissipates. He spent six weeks in Pennsylvania. Outspent Hillary more than 2 to 1. Ran close to 10,000 television ads — spending more than anyone in any race in the history of the state — and lost by 10 points.

And not because he insufficiently demagogued NAFTA or the other “issues.” It was because of those “distractions” — i.e., the things that most reveal character and core beliefs.

letters@charleskrauthammer.com