Saturday, November 05, 2005

ANWR: What Took You Guys So Long?

Finally! We have progress in the quest to open up a miniscule portion of the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration and drilling. On November 3, the Republicans in the U.S. Senate passed a rider to a larger filibuster-proof budget bill that requires the Department of the Interior to begin selling leases to oil companies who want to work in ANWR. This argument about drilling/no drilling in ANWR has been going on for years. It wasn't big on the list in say, 1998 when I was paying $.94 at the pump. Now that gas hovers between $2.50 and $3.00 a gallon, people finally realized that action needed to be taken. The dumbest quote of the day comes from a supposedly non-partisan group called According to an article from Jerome Corsi, after the Senate vote, sent out an email that in part, stated the following:
Opening the wildlife refuge to oil rigs is not about "energy security" or bringing down the price of gas (siphoning out all the oil under the sanctuary would save just one penny at the pump). Drilling oil wells in one of the last untouched spots in America is nothing but another federal giveaway to Bush administration cronies in an oil industry that is gouging consumers with $3 per gallon gas while it reaps record profits.
Think about this moronic email for a second. Putting aside their "one penny at the pump" reasoning (where did that statistic come from?), what they are saying is that we shouldn't let oil companies drill for more oil because they are already "gouging" us at the pump. Hello?! I smell the need for a short economics lesson. There is a rule of nature called supply and demand. If supply is low and demand is high, prices go up. Right now, for a number of reasons, supply of oil is low and demand is high. This equals high prices. If we drill in Alaska, demand of course remains high, but supply goes up, thereby prices go down. It's so simple, even a leftist can follow the logic... maybe.

Keep in mind that only the Senate has approved the drilling. Now the bill goes to the House of Representatives, where supposedly, the Republicans have enough votes to pass it to President Bush, who has said he would sign it. Let's see if the Republicans show a brief bit of backbone on this one, or will they wilt away at the first sign of criticism from the whining Democrats?

As a short aside, a couple of years ago, the subject of ANWR came up in an honors world history class I was teaching. I am of course in favor of drilling, but being the stellar teacher I am, I presented the arguments of both sides to the students. There was one girl in the class who was a total whacko environmentalist type who was already a devotee of all things lefty who got so angry that I dared present a position in favor of drilling in ANWR that I thought she was going to spit on me. Did it matter that I had just finished presenting the argument she favored? Noooooo, this girl and her ilk don't want you to hear both sides of the story. Why do you think the left hates Fox News so much? Anyhow, while explaining the pro-drilling view, I mentioned several facts that I will repeat here:

  • The area of ANWR that would open for drilling is not pristine forest bursting with green mountains and trees. It is a fairly flat and barren wasteland of tundra, or as I heard it described on the Hugh Hewitt show the other day: West Texas with ice. I find it amusing when the whacko environmentalists send out their "Protect ANWR" literature, the pictures on the literature show those green mountains and trees. You know the deal, I'm sure - If no one wants to protect a jungle, call it a rain forest. If no one wants to protect a swamp, call it a wetland.
  • The area of the entire ANWR is gi-freaking-normous; try somewhere around a million acres. The area that would be open for drilling is about 5,000 acres, or just one half of one percent of the total area of ANWR. It is the equivalent of a piece of printer paper on a football field.
  • Right now, 60% of our oil is imported. Believe it or not, Canada provides the most, but the price of the rest is set at the whim of OPEC, which controls about 40% of the world's oil market. Tapping the Alaskan oil would greatly reduce our dependence on OPEC oil and our vulnerability to OPEC's supply tampering.
The frustrating part folks, is that there is plenty of oil in the world; the issue is that most of it is not extracted from U.S. soil, so we can't control its output. Another frustrating issue is that even if we were to extract more oil ourselves, we don't have enough refining capacity to process it quickly enough. There has not been a new oil refinery built in the United States since 1975, even though our population and consumption of oil have gone up considerably since then. This is due to a combo of NIMBYism and radical environmentalism. The refineries that are operating also have to deal with producing all these special regional blends that have been dicated by state and municipal governments. For instance the gas used in Maryland may be unsuitable for use in Los Angeles. This means that if there is a shortage in one area of the country, you can't ship in any surplus from another area of the country unless the blends are the same. Even if we do start drilling in Alaska, the refineries are already working at capacity and would be hard pressed to handle this new oil coming in. Nevertheless, the action by the Senate on Thursday was a step in the right direction.

Good Day to You, Sir

No comments: