by Buckley Jensen
This morning, (May 21, 2008) when I left the house, oil on the world market was $127 a barrel. When I returned seven hours later, it was $134 a barrel.
Today, for the first time in history, regular unleaded gas reached $4.00 a gallon in our little village. (Ok, Ok, it is only $3.99.9) Keep in mind that $4 a gallon reflects the price of oil at $120 a barrel so $4 gas will look like a bargain in a few weeks.
I have a new granddaughter in Spokane. I am going to have to take out a bank loan to buy gas for the road trip I have planned for the last nine months to see her.
But what worries me more than the price of gas is what this national morass we are in says about our nation. What kind of short sighted planning have our leaders done (or not done) that we could be in this situation?
Each day we Americans consume 21 million barrels of oil. Sixteen million of those barrels are imported from around the world. At $134 a barrel, we send $2,144,000,000 (that’s BILLIONS folks) of our national treasure out of the country EVERY single day. And it is going to get a lot worse.
A few facts: America has more coal than any country in the world and the technology to make gasoline from it.
America has far more oil in its vast oil shale deposits in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming than the Middle East has oil.
America has between 1,000 and 2,500 years of natural gas (at current consumption rates) which is the cleanest burning carbon fuel on the planet.
America has the uranium and the technology to provide all the electricity needs of the nation with virtually no detrimental effects on the environment. Solar, wind and geothermal technologies have made quantum leaps forward in the last decade.
And yet we are held hostage by dictators and despots, some of whom hate us and have openly avowed to destroy our way of life.
Can you imagine what will happen to the price of oil if just a small shooting war were to erupt in the Middle East?
Or what would happen if terrorists damaged or destroyed the single port which ships 10,000,000 barrels of oil a day out of Saudi Arabia?
Or if the dictators in Venezuala or Iran just decided to stop selling oil to “The Great Satan”.
Any one of these possibilities, (and a dozen more which could be cited) could result in $10 per gallon gasoline and $13 dollar diesel almost overnight.
Do you remember when America decided on a crash program (called the Manhattan Project) to find the secrets of the atom? We beat Hitler to “the bomb” and won the war.
Do you remember when President Eisenhower announced the massive Interstate Highway System, which was the largest public works project in history and we built it?
Do you remember when President Kennedy said we would place a man on the moon before the decade of the 1960’s was over, and we did?
These days we can’t even find the will to control our southern border. We have not built a new oil refinery or a nuclear power plant in this country for 30 years.
We have billions of barrels of oil in ANWR and off our coasts, but we are more worried about polar bears and spotted owls than we are about shipping our national treasure to our enemies.
Using one-third the corn crop to make ethenol instead of food makes me crazy. It’s scary. What happened to the America that used to be able to do anything?
The difference between now and then is leadership. Instead of doing what is best for America, Democrats and Republicans sit in the halls of Congress and fight each other.
It is easier to blame the oil companies, the environmentalists, the greedy Arabs, and each other, than it is to make a plan.
With big tax incentives, cutting the bureaucratic red tape, and offering a billion dollar prize to whoever can come up with a car that gets 100 miles per gallon, it would surprise those basically worthless politicians in Washington what the working folks in America could do.
Heck, lets offer a two billion dollar prize. That’s what we send overseas for oil every single day!
It isn’t like the power structure hasn’t known this day was coming for decades. I think it is time to throw the “bums” (politicians) out and start over.
If this nation decided on a “Manhattan Project” for energy we have the resources to be a net exporter of energy instead of spending billions every day.
Have you ever thought about where a lot of that money we spend abroad on oil goes? T. Boone Pickens said last week that as things are, ”we are financing both sides of the war on terror.”
We have wasted 30 years doing basically nothing since the long gas lines of the l970’s. If you think there was pain at the pump then, just stay tuned.
Unless something is done, and fast, our love affair with the automobile, and much of our way of life is going to be a thing of the past, or at least postponed until we get our act together.
In the meantime, I guess I better trek on down to the bank and take out a loan so I can afford to drive to Washington. If I can get the banker to loan me an extra $2,000, I will fill my 500-gallon ranch tank with gas at $4 per.
Think how good that investment will look like on July 4th when gas is $6 something a gallon. Life could be better.