The next presidential election is 15 months away, and 2012 (like most elections) will come down to the mundane, everyday, bread-and-butter issue of economics. I submit that the biggest economic indicator is the price of gasoline.
Back in 2006, Nancy Pelosi railed about high gasoline prices, asserting that they were the result of “Big Oil” running the government.Barack Obama picked up on this theme during his 2008 presidential bid, and said he “felt the pain” of those who had to pay exorbitant gas prices.
By the time Obama was inaugurated, gas prices fell below $2, but have since nudged $4 per gallon at various times. Now that he has assumed the mantle of President, he places blame on the consumer, stating that we should drive more fuel-efficient cars. That’s right, now it’s our fault.
In defense of his energy policy, Obama recently assured a crowd that domestic oil production is at its highest level since 2003. Although that’s true, it only paints half the picture. The other half is that production has been steadily declining for the last 40 years. According to Petroleum Insights, in 1970, the United States produced 9.637 million barrels of oil per day. In 2010, we produced a little more than half that rate, 5.512 million barrels per day.
If we learned anything from the oil embargoes of the 1970s, it’s that we must develop our own natural resources. The Gulf of Mexico is possibly the largest depository of natural gas in the world. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge region of Alaska quite probably has the greatest deposit of crude oil in the world. We also have huge coal reserves within our borders.
U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Ark., has repeatedly called for developing Alaska’s ANWR region, but his message (just as repeatedly) has fallen on deaf ears. ANWR consists of 19 million acres. Of this, only 2,000 acres, or 0.0105 percent of the total, is proposed for drilling, all of it barren, desolate wasteland.
Instead, we continue to pay exorbitant prices for energy from people who don’t much like us. This fact went from “troubling,” passed right by “alarming” and settled on “frightening” last week with an announcement from OPEC. Rostam Ghasemi, OPEC’s new president, is also an Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander who is the subject of U.S., European and Australian sanctions. This shouldn’t give anyone in our part of the world much of a warm and fuzzy feeling.
Every time someone brings up the subject, I’m reminded of country singer Aaron Tippin’s song, “Drill Here, Drill Now.” I often play it on my iPod while zipping around town on my 10-speed with a grin on m
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