I started writing this as a response to some friends when I realized it would make more sense to put here. As a technology education major I was required to take 5 semester classes that dealt exclusively with energy and transportation. So fortunately I know a fair bit on the topic.
First, we have not pumped our nation dry nor have we been “forced” (an outright Obama lie) to drill miles off the coast due to a lack of oil. There are numerous places we can drill for oil that are much safer than a mile of water. Unfortunately the environmental warriors (like Obama) have used NIMBY (not in my back yard) and convenient environmental excuses (we have to save the underwater three-toed hump-back sea snail) as a reason to knee-cap our economy. Sadly, it’s not just oil drilling that the ideologues have hindered. They are also the reason not one new US oil refinery has been built in decades (I think 1976 was the last one, here is a current battle) and the reason new nuclear power plants are so hard to permit and approve (not one built since the 70s). The environmental warriors are not above hypocrisy either. Remember when the Kennedy family put up the fight over the wind turbines off the coast of Mass?
Obama’s claim that we have to start moving away from oil because of the first oil rig disaster in 50 years is like saying we all have to start taking the train because a 747 crashed. Don’t get me wrong, this is one hell of a “plane crash” we’re dealing with. But it was preventable through regulation and oversight. Unfortunately Obama is still trying to blame the lack of oversight on Bush even though Obama has been President for over 17 months. Imagine if you hired a new manager who – after working for you for a year and a half – was still blaming his shortcomings in management on the person that he was hired to replace ( as they took frequent afternoons off to go golfing). This is the Obama equivalent. I would love to get an executive job where I could blame my lack of accountability on the guy who had the job 1.5 years ago and get people to believe it.
But there is one problem in particular that I have yet to hear anyone cover. Obama talked about expanding wind and solar initiatives to replace our dependency on oil. This is like saying we need to start eating healthy to curb our addiction to smoking. The two are on completely different ends of the spectrum in terms of energy. According to the Energy Information Administration (2008 data) 71% of our petroleum consumption went to the transportation sector. The transportation sector gets 95% of its energy from petro, 2% from natural gas, and 3% from renewable energy (ethanol, which (if I remember correctly) takes 2 gallons of petro to make 3 gallons). The vast majority of the renewable energy that Obama touts actually goes to the electricity grid, which gets the majority of its power from coal (of which we have the largest reserves on the planet) and nuclear. Its not that his claims are slightly inaccurate, they’re completely inaccurate.
So how are we suddenly going to stop smoking by changing our diet? Electric vehicles are not going to power semi-trucks down the highway any time soon (or ever). That hybrid vehicle that everyone claims is better for the environment than the gas guzzling SUV? The Prius was actually determined to be more harmful to the environment than a Hummer in terms of the energy and materials required to manufacture it. Not only that, but during the manufacturing of the batteries used in the hybrid they actually circumnavigate the globe (on a fuel guzzling container ship) by the time the battery makes it into that shiny new Toyota on the dealer lot. Nothing says “green” quite like global circumnavigation.
So why all the focus on unnecessary “green” technologies to replace the power supply we already have? Why not Natural gas? Its twice as clean as gasoline, and we have huge reserves. Why not coal gasification? Why not allow us to drill for oil in shallow water and on land where it is much safer? Why switch to a forms of energy that cost twice as much?
Easy. Ideology. Hope and change baby, hope and change.