Why more drilling is not the answer

Great article at the Good Human that articulates why the gimmick of drilling offshore is really about oil profits and not about energy. If it were about energy, we’d care about ALL kinds of energy innovation (wind, solar, geothermal, etc.):

Besides the fact that oil spills from more extreme exploration will be a lot worse than the ones I mentioned the other day, here are some reasons why opening up ANWR and more offshore rigs will not solve our problem in neither the short or long term:

  • The Department of Energy (of all departments!) has said that lifting the ban on more offshore exploration on the outer continental shelf would not have a significant impact on crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. That is 20 years from now – that’s a long time for Americans to make big changes and invest in new technologies!
  • The oil and gas industry still has over 64 million acres of land that has been granted to them to explore on – which they have not even started using. According to some studies, exploiting this land could possibly double U.S. oil production. Why would we permit more exploration when they have not even used so much of what we already granted them?
  • Even if they started licensing anywhere the oil companies wanted to go, it takes an average of 2 years for the licensing process to complete, and an additional 5 years for any significant amount of oil to show up.
  • While the number of drilling permits issued has increased by something like 360% over the last 10 years, gas prices have tripled during the same period. More drilling does not equal lower prices at the pump.
  • According to the Energy Information Administration in 2004, opening an Alaska wildlife refuge to drilling would only lower oil prices by less than 50 cents a barrel. Yes, a barrel, not a gallon!
  • If gasoline prices are so spooked by hurricane season in the Gulf, why in the world would we build even more offshore rigs in the region?
  • It is the estimate of the American Petroleum Institute that opening our waters to more drilling would be unlikely to provide Americans with more oil for at least 7 to 10 years. And if they are admitting it…

No matter how you look at it, opening up new lands for drilling make no sense – the oil companies have millions of acres they already have permits for, any oil found would lower the price of a barrel by a mere $.50, and it could take 7-10 years for the oil to show up in our supply line. Does that make any sense as a national policy? Not quite. At least it doesn’t to me; but then again I don’t have coffers full of oil money, either. If we invested the amount of money that the oil companies would have to invest in all this new drilling, I am sure we could accomplish at least the following:

  • Put a solar panel or 3 on every single new house that gets built
  • Open up our windy deserts to fields of wind turbines
  • Convert more of our cars to natural gas instead of oil. We seem to have plenty of it as a stop-gap measure for now
  • Increase fuel efficiency standards to a level that actually makes a difference – like 40 or 50 MPG for any and all cars sold in America
  • Continue (and increase) tax incentives for using renewable energy at home
  • Every house could have a geothermal heating and cooling system as many of them do in Europe
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