World leaders, America’s politicians and the general public have finally realized we’re going to need all the sources of energy we can get. To meet the continuing rise in demand for transportation fuels and electricity, all technologies — existing and developing — will have a place in the mix of solutions. Everyone pretty much knows what the major sources are: oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, hydro, solar and wind, but there are big differences of opinion about which ones we should choose to develop.
I’m in favor of doing it all: drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore, developing clean coal technology, nuclear, solar, wind, hydro, etc., etc., etc. — and conservation: We do need to drive less and use less electricity, natural gas and other types of energy. But, contrary to the claims of anti-energy advocates, we can’t conserve our way out of our energy dilemma.
And waiting for the ideal solution, currently touted as solar and wind, could take far longer than drilling here and now. Some potential solutions will surely take longer than others, perhaps a very long time, so trying one or two at time while we wait to see if they solve our problem means stringing the effort out over a very long period of time. For example, given current technology and zoning, planning and other government restraints, plus the litigation that will surely follow almost any large-scale effort, such as nuclear or building more oil refineries, just about anything we might do will undoubtedly be dragged out over a period of many years.
Oil, coal and gas are still the cheapest and most effective sources of energy for running large factories, trains, heating buildings, operating cars and trucks, etc. But, some new technologies are also currently being developed that could be very important as a future energy source of, one of which is wave energy. This is not some pie-in-the-sky alternative. It’s here now, with Portugal about to start work on the world’s first commercial wave power plant, which could ultimately supply 20 percent of that country’s energy needs.
If our politicians would get out of the way and lift the restrictions they themselves have imposed on our ability to develop America’s energy resources, there would be a surge of risk takers who are more than willing to invest the money and effort needed to solve our energy crises — and not in 10 or 20 years, as the obstructionists would have us believe.
One glaring example of illogical and foolish thinking is the fact that we cannot drill offshore, while other nations, such as China, India and others are entering into leases to drill off the coast of Cuba, in an area that intrudes on U.S. territorial waters.
Perhaps the most offensive behavior of all is that of our congressional leaders, who have taken a five-week summer vacation without permitting proposed legislation about drilling for oil to reach the floor for a vote before they left, while the American public struggles with the impacts of high gasoline prices on their lives. Congressional leaders continue to block every effort to lift sanctions on drilling for oil and gas, notwithstanding the fact that, according to a recent Fox News poll, 75 percent of the American people now support “increasing oil in the United States immediately, 71 percent favor drilling offshore and 54 percent approve drilling in a small area of the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge.”
Writing in HumanEvents.com, Chuck Norris recently observed: “Despite the fact that a recent poll found that Americans now believe (by a 3-to-1 ratio) gas prices are a bigger problem than global warming, The Washington Post noted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., an avid opponent of offshore drilling, vows to block a drilling vote and even dialogue from occurring on the House floor. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., echoed the same sentiment when he eliminated energy amendments to his anti-speculation bill. At the same time, Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Robert Byrd, D-W. Va., canceled committee consideration of spending bills for fear that Republicans would include drilling amendments.”
The answer is not rocket science. Instead of holding out for the “perfect solution,” whatever that may be, the United States should jump in with both feet and start drilling, here and now, everywhere we can, while we move ahead to develop alternative sources of energy. Click here to listen to an impassioned speech from Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, about this issue.
Ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu has been famously quoted with saying, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Not drilling for oil and/or gas because it will take too long cannot solve anything. We need to take as many first steps as we can.
Harris R. Sherline is a retired CPA and former chairman and CEO of Santa Ynez Valley Hospital who has lived in Santa Barbara County for more than 30 years. He stays active writing opinion columns and his own blog, Opinionfest.com.