The Bottom Line

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, July 2, 2008

By Staff
America should drill American oil
By Tray Smith
Americans, understandably frustrated over gas prices, are depending on our political system to ease their pain. However, the increase in gas prices, like many of our economic challenges, is complicated. Such complicated challenges demand complex solutions, which Congress, hindered by its own inefficiencies, is not capable of delivering.
But Congressmen, consumed with the challenge of their own re-election, may be forced to enact something; the probability gas will reach $5 a gallon increases with every passing day, just as the distance to election day decreases. Yet, they can do nothing to compensate for their failure to enact a national energy policy years ago, which is the cause of our national pump pain today.
Congress can still affect the price of gas in the long-term by opening more of our national resources to drilling. Polls show a large shift in public opinion in favor of expanded drilling opportunities, proving the public’s concern for its own pocketbook is greater than its concern for environmental phobias. Democrats, who control Congress, have not adjusted to that shift, but they might, if Republicans properly exploit their political weakness on energy issues.
That weakness is this: with oil worth more than $142 a barrel, why is the federal government prohibiting companies from exploiting reserves that are estimated to have more than 70 billion barrels? That is the equivalent of nearly a decade of domestic oil consumption, without accounting for existing and planned areas of oil exploration or including petroleum imports from our friendly North American allies in Canada and Mexico.
Indeed, even liberal politicians promise energy independence, but in truth, their insistence on protecting large swaths of national territory from oil exploration causes us to import energy from unstable Middle Eastern countries. But most liberals support high gas prices because they believe they decrease gas consumption, and thus prevent global warming.
Therefore, America’s economy is effectively heading into recession in order to prevent an unproven and unlikely environmental phenomenon that is the cause de jour of the Democratic Party.
Through intelligent strategizing and political posturing, Republicans can force the Democrats to reconsider this policy or, better yet, defeat the Democrats and correct the policy themselves. That will be a hard task, considering the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party calls global warming a preeminent challenge of the generation and says he would no sooner drill for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) than the Grand Canyon. Unlike the Grand Canyon, ANWR is home to between seven and 16 billion barrels of oil which can be extracted from just 3,000 acres on reserve of 19 million.
Americans have a choice between the status quo, cheap American energy, or expensive renewable energy. The Republican Party, in order to be effective, must stand for cheap and American. Because the price of gas, not the affect of its usage, is the preeminent concern of the public.
Tray Smith is a political columnist for the Atmore Advance. He is a student at Escambia County High School and can be reached at tsmith_90@

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