One president after another has done nothing to end America’s addiction to foreign oil. The current president is doing his best to get Americans to buy MORE foreign oil. President Obama will not give up his drive to stall drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. His Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, has approved 1 out of the 18 applications for deepwater drilling since his department shut down deepwater drilling in the Gulf. That’s well below the historic level, according to Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA).
Secretary Salazar has taken other swipes at the oil and gas industry’s ability to produce domestic energy. In 2009, he cancelled leases that were in progress from the Bush administration; leases which allowed more domestic drilling and energy production. After GOP Senators Barrasso and Bennett from Wyoming and Utah respectively had a chance to tally up the damage the cancellation of the leases caused their states, they sent the secretary a sharp rebuke.
So what is to be done? America must press forward with conversions of fleet vehicles to run on compressed or liquefied natural gas. Billionaire and energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens has developed a plan to put more natural gas vehicles on the road. Pickens has skin in the game for sure, but it’s still better than the nonexistent one Washington hasn’t had time to write.
UPS has started using LNG in its fleet of large tractor-trailers. Approximately 136 million gallons of No. 2 diesel fuel are burned on American roads every day (EIA). Much of that consumption is from big fleet vehicles that could replace gasoline consumption with natural gas.
Switching fuels isn’t the only answer though. Simply making vehicles lighter using carbon fiber could be one of the greatest fuel savers of all. The Rocky Mountain Institute’s Amory Lovins has long been a proponent of lightening vehicles to cut consumption levels, citing that most the energy burned by automobiles is used to push the 2,000 pounds of car, not the much lighter passengers. According to Lovins, “Less than one percent of the energy generated goes to the vehicle’s main mission: moving the driver from point A to point B.” I have written of Lovins’ research for years and consider him to be #1 in the field. And yet to my knowledge our president has never heard of Mr. Lovins.
As can be seen by the recent turmoil in the Middle East, America has a tenuous supply line of hydro-carbons abroad. At any moment uprisings, wars, and terrorist attack could cripple or choke the supply of energy to America and her allies. Volatility in the energy markets is bad for the U.S. economy. Small business owners cannot plan hiring and acquisitions if they can’t even estimate what they’ll pay to heat offices or fuel delivery trucks?
There are a variety of ways to combat the threat of foreign oil shock. One is to tax imports of foreign oil. I am in favor of this as long as the revenue goes straight to debt reduction. Next, clear the bureaucratic hurdles thrown in the way of America’s energy producers.
With oil prices skyrocketing, Americans should ask the president and Secretary Salazar why they would impede domestic energy production at such a critical time in the economic recovery. American’s are going to have to wake up to the reality that the words domestic availability and not cost should rule the energy discussion. My upcoming issue of Intelligence Report will focus on this issue