The media are filled these days with articles about energy. There is lots of smoke blowing about but not too much in the way of real solutions being offered. Politicians seem to be constantly attempting to make points against the other guy or assigning blame on the easy targets. They sure wouldn’t want to be the target of blame themselves. Naturally, they view themselves as blameless.
When the Congress had the oil executives up for more hearings last week, the blame game was at fever pitch. The major US oil companies, to hear the politicos tell it, are to blame for all the price rise. Like they had a monopoly on oil production and distribution. I would remind those pols that they do NOT control the price of oil by themselves. For openers such an action would violate the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and believe me that is the last thing the majors would want. How about all the other major oil companies around the world? Our pols seem to forget that the British, Dutch and even Norway and Russia have oil companies as big and bigger than ours. OPEC controls a pretty good chunk of the oil production and increasingly other nations are playing a bigger and bigger role i.e., Brazil, Nigeria and the East Indies and surrounding seas.
Exxon simply cannot control the price of oil. Quit blaming and start working the problem. Windfall profits taxes will not produce one extra barrel of oil, never forget that. We need a broad based approach to the energy needs for the future and to assure affordable prices and even our national security. It is in our strategic interest that we have abundant energy supplies. We like our electric toothbrushes, automatic water sprinklers, lights that work and computers that will compute.
Short term we need to go with what we have domestically and open every avenue of potential development, yes including Alaska and all offshore reserves. I understand the environmental concerns but we must establish priorities for the next couple of decades. We can clean up and I hope we will. Solar, wind power, yes, give them a shot. Hydrogen cars? Give them a try too but remember it takes energy to produce even the hydrogen. Ethanol was a bad idea.
For the life of me I don’t understand why we don’t focus our attention on what we have–coal. We sit on the largest coal reserves in the world. We have coal to last for eons. With a Manhattan Project type of approach I can’t believe that in a few years we couldn’t learn to convert it to gasoline and diesel. It can be done now, but the costs are prohibitive. Coal can be made to burn clean. Yes, it will take lots of work and money but the long term benefits to the US would be immeasurable. We would not be dependent on anyone for our energy needs. During WWII there were cars in occupied Europe that ran on coal, people were creative due to necessity.
Let’s turn loose our geologists and engineers and establish a clear goal. If coal is not the best answer I am happy with that as long as we have a reasoned and useful debate about how to meet our needs. We will have energy needs and they will only continue to grow, not diminish. We need the help and enthusiasm of our scientists and our business community rather than brow beating them.
In the spring of 1938 a British spy reported that Germany was about to invade Poland immediately. This report is specifically what prompted Great Britain to issue the “guarantee” to Poland. Of course the invasion did not happen then. The intelligence was wrong. Six months later Poland called in that guarantee when Germany did invade. You could say that Great Britain got involved in WWII on faulty and bad intelligence.