Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Petroleum & People Skills

When will the US government is finally getting off its duff and allow drilling in "coastal" waters! With oil prices as high as they have been, I’m really surprised we haven’t been OKing a lot more domestic drilling. There are at least three major sources of domestic oil that aren’t being exploited: ANWR, oil shale and coastal drilling. If we started accessing these resources and building some refineries it could really reduce the prices at the pump both short term and long term.

So, there’s no good reason we have to keep paying through the nose for foreign oil. No good reason except certain people would rather make working Americans pay big money in order to discourage oil use.

While there have been great strides in making solar and wind power more affordable, they aren’t yet ready to compete with coal and oil. They are getting there. Yes, we should be encouraging this trend. But, we should also be working to make that transition as painless as possible. Otherwise, too many people will associate going green with financial ruin and bureaucratically coerced sacrifices. By preventing us developing resources and infrastructure, what could have been a painless (and more voluntary) transition is going instead to be a financial train-wreck for working class Americans. Don’t environmentalists realize how much damage they are doing?

If you’re a working class American paying $4+ per gallon and you found out that there was plenty of oil, only you weren’t allowed to use it, how happy would you be with the the people who told you “No”? How much would you trust them next time they said going green was necessary? There’s been some very good strides recently in the environmental movement to portray a more positive message of the future (not “OMG, We’re Going to DIE! And we kinda deserve it.” but “Hey, the future could be cool if we work at it a little”). Now, for many Americans, that good is being undone. Because when they think of the green movement, they will think of artificially high oil prices and coercive manipulation by bureaucrats.

(I know the green movement includes a very diverse selection of opinions, some of which I have no problem with. However, the “average” American isn’t necessarily informed about that diversity. There is a real risk of the subset of opinions on drilling and refinery construction harming the average American’s opinion of the larger movement. Considering that some changes do need to be made, I really worry about this.)

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