Thursday, May 01, 2008

Energy Security Under Our Own Feet

Fire of Liberty

I have to say that if folks want to free this country up from expensive energy prices and hostile dictators, then they should read Robert Samuelson's most recent column in the Washington Post in which he points out that the solution is greater domestic exploration and drilling. I believe that the observant Samuelson slugged the ball out of the park with regards to the price of oil(And the subsequent production of gasoline) when he wrote the following:

The best we can do is to try to influence the global balance of supply and demand. Increase our supply. Restrain our demand. With luck, this might widen the worldwide surplus of production capacity. Producers would have less power to exact ever-higher prices, because there would be more competition among them to sell. OPEC loses some leverage; its members cheat. Congress took a small step last year by increasing fuel economy standards for new cars and light trucks from 25 to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. (And yes, we need a gradually rising fuel tax to create a strong market for more-efficient vehicles.)

Increasing production also is important. Output from older fields, including Alaska's North Slope, is declining. Although production from restricted areas won't make the U.S. self-sufficient, it might stabilize output or even reduce imports. No one knows exactly what's in these areas, because the exploratory work is old. Estimates indicate that production from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge might equal almost 5 percent of present U.S. oil use.

Members of Congress complain loudly about high oil profits ($40.6 billion for ExxonMobil last year) but frustrate those companies from using those profits to explore and produce in the United States. Getting access to oil elsewhere is increasingly difficult. Governments own three-quarters or more of proven reserves. Higher prices perversely discourage other countries from approving new projects. Flush with oil revenues, countries have less need to expand production. Undersupply and high prices then feed on each other.

But it's hard for the United States to complain that other countries limit access to their reserves when we're doing the same. If higher U.S. production reduced world prices, other countries might expand production. What they couldn't get from prices they'd try to get from greater sales.

I wish that someone would hand the three candidates running for president an occasional newspaper and read some pieces by Samuelson, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, and Amity Shlaes and others and they'd learn that by increasing the supply you have a great effect on the price of a particular commodity. Until someone emerges with a free market friendly energy policy that advocates greater domestic drilling, the constructing of more nuclear power-plants, as well as introducing non-subsidized/non-food stuffs alternative fuels, this nation will continue to see high prices and unforeseen problems down the road.

*The one thing that all candidates or at least Senator McCain should do to tackle the rising cost of oil is to advocate a strong dollar and point out how the price of oil goes up the more the dollar falls.

1 comment:

cary said...

They don't read those columns for fear of being infected with "common sense."