A call to arms
I’m going off the grid on a camping trip for a couple days but I wanted to throw something out for discussion. First of all, the United States is addicted to oil
Petroleum products, especially motor gasoline, distillate (diesel) fuel, and jet fuel, provide virtually all of the energy consumed in the transportation sector. Transportation is the greatest single use of petroleum, accounting for an estimated 67 percent of all U.S. petroleum consumed in 2004. The industrial sector is the second largest petroleum consuming sector and accounts for about 23 percent of all petroleum consumption in the U.S. Residential/Commercial and the electric utility sectors account for the remaining 8 percent of petroleum consumption.
Demand for petroleum products in the United States averaged 19.7 million barrels per day in 2004. This represents about 3 gallons of petroleum each day for every person in the country. By comparison, petroleum demand averaged about 2 gallons per person per day in the early 1950's and nearly 3.6 gallons per person per day in 1978.
As consumption has risen, domestic production has dropped, leading to an increase in foreign oil importation:
The problem is that America's domestic petroleum production has significantly declined, from 10 million barrels a day in 1970 to about 5 million today. Our response has been increasing importation of oil, now more than 12 million barrels a day.
And where do these billions of dollars go? Right into the coffers of some of the worst regimes in the world such as Iran and Saudi Arabia who openly support Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. Therefore, energy independence isn’t just a matter of economics but a factor in national security. It’s time to start thinking of energy policy as an extension of security policy and get serious.
And by serious, I don’t mean John Kerry’s amorphous call for a “Manhattan Project” for alternative energy (while blocking Cape Wind) or Hillary Clinton’s anodyne suggestion that more ethanol will solve everything. It’s time for solid action, so here’s the official Viking Pundit agenda for energy independence:Increase the gas tax
– Wow, this will be popular, but no other single action will reduce America’s oil consumption.Open up ANWR for development
– Charles Krauthammer calls
ANWR the “poster child of cake-and-eat-it-too eco-petulance.” It’s time to put oil revenues in our own pocket instead of Iran’s.End Saudi blackmailing
– Saudi Arabia has agreed to keep the spigots open as long as they remain our top supplier. It’s time to steer clear of OPEC nations, consequences be damned.Encourage tele-commuting
– The Internet is here: no need to expend jet fuel and gasoline to get workers to and fro.Develop nuclear
– Hate global warming? Then let’s develop the only viable energy source that doesn’t produce carbon dioxide.Stop the ethanol nonsense
– We need an investigator unaffiliated with oil companies or environmental groups to assess whether ethanol is worth billions in federal subsidies
But it is not clear that ethanol is a good economic or energy bargain. Producing it requires diesel fuel for tractors to plant and harvest the corn and fertilizers, and pesticides to allow it to grow, so it takes about seven barrels of oil to produce eight barrels of corn-based ethanol. But then more truck or rail fuel is required to deliver it, since there are no pipelines from corn country to urban areas, making shipping ethanol about double the cost of shipping gasoline. In the end ethanol may be a more expensive fuel. Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) says there is no policy reason for ethanol: "If the ethanol producers and the corn growers weren't benefiting from this, we wouldn't be doing it."
Some of these initiatives will be unpopular but they have the virtue of being effective. We have got
to stop pouring money into Hezbollah’s pocket through Iran. That’s all there is to it.