Why Are Gas Prices So High - Part 3

on Tuesday, August 12, 2008

This is part 3 of a 3-part series on high gas prices. Before continuing on, you should have read parts 1 and 2, which can be found here and here respectively.

Part 1 of our series on gas prices detailed the reasons your government is to blame for high gas prices. Part 2 focused more on other global factors that push oil prices up and explained the fact that oil companies are not to blame for high prices, oil company gouging doesn’t exist, and that high profits for them are actually a good thing. And finally we’ve reached the concluding part of our series. Part 3 below highlights the reasons that, while alternative energy will ultimately be the wave of the future, it is still unrealistic, unaffordable, and for the most part, unavailable.


First of all, let it be known that I support alternative energy sources. Nobody is arguing that oil needs to be our one and only source of energy. As such, I have no problem with a car that burns nothing more than seawater and gets 300 miles per gallon. But that technology doesn’t currently exist, does it? That being said, there are many other problems that lie within the quest for alternative energy. Here are just a few:

1) One of the largest talking points of anti-drilling proponents is that, even if we started pumping more oil today, we won’t see relief from that drilling for roughly ten years. Instead, they suggest that alternative energy forms should be used. Barack Obama, for example, has proposed a plan that he calls the “fast-track” to alternative energy sources.

But are these proposals really as “fast track” as he suggests? According to scientists who actually work in the field, we’re still another 10-20 years away from cheaply and efficiently using the alternative energy sources that global warming zealots and anti-drilling activists falsely claim are immediately available.

Truth: Are we able to tap wind and solar power? Absolutely!

Another truth: Nanotechnology is still years away from being able to cheaply and efficiently use and store those forms of energy in a vehicle. Even though Obama may falsely claim so, there is no “fast track” to alternative energy. In fact, alternative energy will take longer and will take more money to develop than drilling oil will. And with oil we have a guarantee that it will work; future alternative energy sources, as history has shown, are not always a sure thing.

Also keep in mind that if we start drilling now we won’t need to wait 10 years for those new oil reserves to hit the pumps before prices go down. Just talking about drilling helps to lower prices. Several weeks ago, President Bush lifted his executive ban on drilling. Drilling hadn’t even started, yet prices dropped $10/barrel almost overnight. And the price on a barrel of oil has dropped (as of this writing) over $30 largely in part because of President Bush doing nothing more than simply talking about producing more supply. On the flip-side, just talking about alternative energy sources to this date has had no such effect.

2) Alternative energy proponents will try to convince you that oil is a resource that is “rapidly” diminishing. To make such a claim is dishonest and is used as a scare tactic to instill fear in the public in a misguided effort to convince you to join the cause in finding alternative energy – lest you die. Fact is there are over 800 billion barrels of oil in the shale fields of Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. Billions more are available in ANWR and off-shore. The Unites States has over 1 trillion barrels of oil at her disposal – enough to provide our country with almost 125 years of an uninterrupted flow of oil. And that’s just by calculating what’s already been discovered; there are still undiscovered deposits of oil throughout the U.S. and off our shores. 125 years is plenty of time for science to invent a new vehicle that doesn’t burn oil. There is no dire emergency to stop drilling something we clearly have vast amounts of.

3) Another claim used to promote alternative energy is that oil must be transported overseas. And in being transported, tankers have a small chance that they will spill. Alternative energy, on the other hand, is clean and has a slim chance of harming the environment when being transported.

While the above statement is true, it is misleading. Yes, oil spills have happened. But what is the actual effect on the environment from these spills? According to a recent study published by the National Academy of Science, human-caused oil spills only account for less than 1% of all oil seepage into the oceans. Mother Earth, on the other hand, is responsible for 46% of all the oil that naturally seeps into the ocean which means that Mother Earth causes roughly 46 times more oil “spills” in the ocean than big mean oil companies do. If tree-huggers truly wanted to minimize oil spills they should support more drilling in our own country. The more oil we have to import, the more tankers have to float on the ocean and into our ports. By drilling our own oil, we can reduce the already almost extinct dilemma of oil tanker spills.

It should also be remembered that, even if we start using more alternative energy, we will still have to ship oil overseas. Oil is used for food, plastics, lubricants and a host of other products (shoes, clothing, medicines, hair care products, lotions, make-up, bandages, cleaners, fabrics, anti-freeze, car seats, safety helmets, tires, computers, printers, ink, carpet, furniture, roofs, roads, CDs, etc, etc...). You can’t make any of these things that we all use and rely on every day, from wind power. Using alternative energy won’t take tankers off the oceans.

4) Forms of energy supported by environmental advocates aren’t always as “renewable” as they seem. Take a battery for example. Ask Al Gore what he thinks of batteries in cars and he’ll probably tell you that we need more of them. He might even go as far to say that every car should have a battery to increase fuel efficiency and reduce pollution. But here’s the part that environmental activists like him seem to skip: You still have to charge the battery. And how do you charge a battery? By plugging it in, of course. And where does that electricity come from? Depending on where you live it may come from a power plant that uses coal or oil to ultimately make electricity. And with the Democrats calling for a 15% reduction in the amount of electricity we use in America, having everyone plug in their car battery every night will most certainly have the opposite effect.

Face it: Unless we want to go back to a 17th century style of living, we need energy. That energy is available to us in many forms from oil, to wind, to solar, to hydrogen, to nuclear. And we should use all of those sources! Sure, let’s keep researching and working on finding a safe way to store and transport hydrogen (which is extracted from oil, by the way), but let’s drill in the meantime. Sure, let’s find a way to advance nanotechnology enough to put tiny solar panels onto a car, but let’s drill in the meantime. Sure, let’s create an engine that runs on nothing more than seawater, but let’s drill in the meantime!! We’re tired of paying $4 and $5 a gallon for gasoline while you guys in Washington keep telling us that future forms of energy are just around the corner when, in fact, they aren’t! Here’s the real truth Washington:

• Hydrogen can’t be safely shipped or stored and is expensive to extract.

• Biofuels like ethanol are even more expensive than gasoline. They are also recently believed to be more harmful to the environment than gasoline emissions are and have helped send corn prices skyrocketing. With millions starving every day in the world, is burning our food such a good idea anyway?

• Batteries aren’t yet efficient enough for sole use in cars, are hazardous to the environment when disposed of, and still require charging from energy sources like oil. Also, charging a car battery every night, or even twice or three times a day to some out there, would be a huge inconvenience and is completely impractical for the long haul trucking industry.

• Solar panel technology has existed for years, but is still too big to be practical and too expensive for the average American to afford. Scientists argue that it will be at least 10 more years until solar panel technology is “competitive”

• Hydro power has been used for years effectively, but we are years away from creating a car engine that runs on nothing more than water.

• Wind power has not yet reached its peak efficiency and, so far, it can’t be used in cars. Also, what happens when the weather is calm?

And even once these forms of energy come online years down the road, how will we set up the infrastructure for production and distribution of these energies. Also, how will Americans afford the expensive new technologies? Given the average American’s current savings rate of -2%, by the time these become available on a free market, nobody will be able to come up with the money for them.

Look, we Republicans have nothing against researching and continuing to develop alternative forms of energy... We just have problems with those who want us to abandon our current forms of energy and switch to uncertain energy forms that are either even more costly, or don’t even exist in the first place.

Time to start drilling.