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Gas prices are hovering at unprecedented heights, with no end in sight, and everyone's looking for someone to blame. Who, we ask, is responsible for this mess? A recent ad for the McCain campaign tells us the answer: Sen. Barack Obama.
"Who can you thank for rising prices as the pump?" the ad's voice-over states as a picture of a smiling Obama appears on the screen next to a gas pump as a crowd chants "Obama! Obama!" in the background.
Wow. Who knew the junior senator from Illinois wielded so much power over oil prices? I thought the Republican talking point was that Obama was weak and inexperienced. But now, it seems, he bestrides the energy market like a Colossus, wielding the power to drive up the price at the pump.
Wait, it gets worse!
As recently as last week, John McCain said that the current energy crisis was "30 years in the making," which means that if Barack Obama's to blame, he's been in control of gas prices since he was 16 years old! Who knows what new powers he's developed in the interim! If he has this much clout, folks, we have to vote for him, because you don't want to make someone that powerful angry. Heck, he might even be able to make big rocks rain from the sky!
This, of course, is absurd. Barack Obama isn't solely responsible for the price of gasoline, any more than George Dubbya Bush is. The current energy mess is the product of years of failures by both Republican and Democratic administrations to realize that we are too darn dependent, not just on foreign oil, but on oil in general as a source of energy.
So what's McCain's solution? The exact same solution as Bush's: find more oil.
What McCain and Bush want to do is open the offshore areas of the U.S. to more oil exploration and more drilling. In fact, Bush the Younger recently reversed his own father's executive order banning drilling in areas of the U.S. coast, setting the stage for a showdown with Congress, which has its own longstanding moratorium.
At least that's McCain's position now. In 2000, McCain opposed offshore drilling. Of course, this is a guy who made a reference last week to the "Iraq-Pakistan border," so it's not surprising that he maybe doesn't remember what he said eight whole years ago.
The "drill our way to energy independence" plan is like saying that the solution to the problem of heroin addiction is to find new sources of heroin. And it's not going to do anything any time soon to bring prices down.
According to a report from the Energy Department released last year, the soonest Gulf Coast drilling, by itself, would have any effect on gas prices is 2017, with no "significant effect" till 2030. Even conservative T. Boone Pickens, an oilman his ownself, says, "This is one problem we're not going to drill our way out of."
Ah, McCain says, but even if it's not going to have any real impact, for "some years, the fact that we are exploiting those reserves would have a psychological impact that I think is beneficial."
Got that? It won't have any effect for years, but we'll all feel a little better about energy. And Republicans have the nerve to call Obama the "feel-good" politician.
The fact is, there is no short-term, quick-fix solution to the energy crunch. "Psychological impacts" aren't going to change the grim calculus that inevitably results from more and more demand (especially from developing countries) chasing a finite amount of oil. With no short-term solution, who's offering a long-term one? Hint: It ain't John McSame.
The good news is that, if we look around hard enough, energy is everywhere. Solar. Wind. Tidal. Geothermal. Biofuels. Heck, they're even working on making fuel out of algae-pond scum -- which can be processed into diesel. A DOE report suggests that we could supply all of America's energy needs from algae-based fuels that don't have the disadvantage that ethanol does, namely that ethanol uses up the corn we may need for food.
Sound like pie in the sky? Sure, there are problems with any of these solutions that need to be overcome. But folks, this is America. We split the atom. We cured polio. We put a man on the moon. Have you naysayers stopped believing in America's potential to discover great things? Do you hate America?
Let's not forget, there's an added bonus for getting off our oil addiction: We can tell terrorist-supporting dictatorships like Bush's pals in Saudi Arabia to -- literally -- go pound sand. But we're not going to get there if we keep looking for the same old solutions. We're not going to get there with the same old, same old Bush/McCain plan to drill our way out of this.
Bush and McCann's ties to the oil industry make alternate energy forms less attractive.
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