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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

McCain's Flip-Flop on Drilling

John McCain finally came to his senses (flip-flopped) on the issue of off shore drilling on the continental shelf for oil. Maybe gas at $4 bucks a gallon finally got him to realize that no matter how much we claim we want to be environmentally friendly, oil will still be running our economy for 50 or so years. Maybe he realized, finally that energy independence won't consist of the sun, and wind alone, and that producing our own oil AND developing alternatives aren't mutually exclusive.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, is sticking to the same, very old, line from the environmentalists "that oil won't reach the market for 5 years"; last week it was 10 years. Maybe he should acknowledge that if we'd been drilling since the first moratorium on shelf drilling was passed 27 years ago, we would have stopped hundreds of millions of barrels of oil per year from be bought from tyrants, despots, and unstable countries.

Will the McCain, (or Bush) plan for the shelf bring pump relief immediately? No, it won't. But it will show up sooner than 5 years. Simply put oil is sky high based on speculation that supplies are going to get tighter and tighter. If you open up reserves holding 20-30 billion barrels of oil, (a 1960's estimate), suddenly that supply doesn't look as tight as it did. The market starts seeing more supply being available, and suddenly the futures position on oil isn't as tempting as it was.

For those who say "but we need to develop alternatives" consider the best alternative most folks site is hydrogen. To get enough hydrogen to replace oil, cost effectively and as a net energy gain, the only way to do it is cracking natural gas. We are currently a net importer of that resource also. (Thanks Congress!!!)

The Eastern Continental Shelf reserve holds hundreds of TRILLIONS of cubic feet of natural gas, which also could be used in cleaner burning electric generation, to reduce the use of heating oil in the North east, etc. But unless we drill there, we don't get to use it. We get to buy it from Canada, Trinidad, and Egypt.

Consider a few other thing about getting off of oil. Aircraft aren't going to fly on solar power or fuel cells anytime soon. Trains aren't going to run on either efficiently, nor are large trucks. Steel isn't going to be produced (cost effectively) using electricity as the sole heater of the metals. And thousands of daily items from sandwich and garbage bags to baby bottles require petroleum products to produce. In other words, Oil is going to stick around for a long time. The question is where do we get it, here, or from Hugo Chavez?

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