I’m not sure if I support long-term drilling for the sake of increasing our oil supply or not, but I do agree with Speaker Pelosi that McCain and Bush are being extremely disingenuous when they suggest drilling might lower gas prices. The Boston Globe reports that it would take 10-12 years for any new oil to reach the market, and the limited supply produced might not keep up with growing global demand anyway. Maybe new offshore drilling, as part of a larger energy package, could help wean us off foreign oil, but that’s not what Bush and McCain have been saying. The drilling discussion hasn’t been framed by anger at foreign interests, but by disgust over high gas prices. This is the kind of dishonesty that puts a real hitch in my giddy-up: take whatever position you like, but don’t lie about your reasons for taking it. If your reasons are good enough for you, they should be good enough for the country. Don’t talk down to or mislead the American people.
Yesterday, the White House finally came close to admitting that new drilling is not a gas prices solution, but then turned around and said that doesn’t matter, we don’t NEED a gas prices solution. White House Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto said the President won’t be tapping into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve anytime soon because, “We'd like to see Members [of Congress] think a little bit more long term and take advantage of the opportunity that we have to do drilling from our domestic sources.”
In other words, screw dealing with current gas prices; we’re only concerned with the long-term viability of American oil companies. Gas is $4.10 a gallon, and don’t you dare touch that. If it comes from the Democrats or doesn’t help my fellow CEOs, we’re not interested – you suffering families can take your empty gas cans and shove ‘em.
Talk about BS. The Strategic Petroleum Reserve and new offshore drilling are not an either/or proposition. Fratto is right, we need to tackle the long term, but that doesn’t mean we have to ignore the short term. We can, and we must, deal with both. When gasoline is $4.10 a gallon, it’s not just the cost of travel that goes up, but the cost of every single product arriving at the store via 18-wheeler. With a median income of approximately $40,000, this nation can’t take that hit. Any man who refuses to let Congress deal with that problem is unfit for leadership.
Admittedly, there’s not much the federal government can do. A well-read exploration geologist relative of mine says the ways to reduce consumption is to lower the national speed limit back to 55 mph, and the way to address global fears over the Mideast is for Bush to publicly tell Israel a strike on Iran would be regarded as a hostile action. Makes sense to me. I’m even more partial to former Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s call for a massive ramp-up in government support of mass transit. But all this would only have a minor effect on oil futures speculation, and it wouldn’t even touch the growing demand of the Chinese and Indian economies. What we really need is a President willing to tell us we’re in for a couple years of sacrifice (a first for this generation), that nothing can be done about China and India, and that it’s time for a Manhattan project on energy – not just a few new offshore rigs to benefit Republican donors, but mass transit, nuclear, solar, wind, cellulosic ethanol, and research, research, research. What we really need is sacrifice and honesty, two words that might as well be Aramaic to the current administration.