This is a guest post by freelance environmental writer Tom Schueneman, publisher of GlobalWarmingisReal.com
The debate on whether to lift the Congressional moratorium on offshore drilling and open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska rages on in its acrimonious glory, yet one point has been mostly drowned out in all the posturing – if we need more domestic sources of oil, then why are we exporting 1.8 million barrels of it every day?
There is at least one voice in government asking this question. Representative Edward J. Markey, Chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence, sent a public letter to George Bush on Tuesday, saying, in a nutshell,
“Mr. President, keep our oil at home”
Oil exports increased to 1.806 million barrels per day in May, the last month for which data is available, an increase from 1.433 million barrels a year prior. In February of this year, oil exports reached their highest level ever, according to Markey. Almost 10% of U.S. daily consumption of oil.
Well, there you go. An instant source of domestic oil! No need to wait 10 or 12 years for oil from offshore or ANWR.
As Markey notes in his letter (pdf), the Department of Energy projects that at peak production, around 2030, offshore oil drilling would produce about 200,000 barrels per day. We currently export 9 times what increased offshore drilling is estimated to produce at its peak. Markey points out that by the time the first offshore rig produced the first drop of oil, we’ll have exported 40% of the estimated reserves in protected areas offshore.
What gives? Why this sudden clamoring for ever more sources of oil development when easier, safer, more effective options exist?
Sure, Big Oil has a stranglehold on politicians. But any entrenched status quo is hard to shake loose; doesn’t mean we should throw up our hands and go watch American Idol.
We need also to look at ourselves as a society and our own expectations. Gas goes to $4 a gallon and Americans “demand action,” assuming – demanding – that cheap gas and “easy oil” last forever. It’s time to wake up to the real world.
On one hand we criticize politicians for being “politically expedient” and on the other we crucify them if they dare to suggest that we are on an unsustainable path.
We need to ask our politicians tough questions and be willing to accept tough answers. We could start with asking why 10% of our daily oil consumption is exported instead of kept at home, and if we’d really need any offshore drilling if we simply did that?
The time for delusion and distraction is over. We get the leaders we deserve.
Ouch, now that hurts!
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