Most the thinking behind the U.S. anti-drilling movement is pretty weak and superficial. Oil drilling is supposed to bad for the environment, so many environmentalists support strict limits on the amount of oil America can produce. Then, “green” technologies should spontaneously emerge, making oil superfluous.
Really, no one expects strictly logical thinking from most in the environmental lobby, but this view is exceptionally poorly thought out. It is hard to argue that oil drilling is an environmentally friendly activity, but a ban on U.S. drilling won’t protect the environment much. If America is not permitted to drill offshore, for example, the oil that would have been produced there will simply be extracted from Saudi Arabia or another Middle Eastern desert country.
Most people don’t think of deserts as fragile ecosystems, but they are. They don’t look very alive, but they actually contain a wealth of plant and animal life. (That sounds like a something from National Geographic, but it’s true). So when the environmental lobby forces America to buy oil from the Middle East, instead of getting oil pumped from nice (comparatively) environmentally friendly American oil wells, they get oil from the much less environmentally conscious wells of the Middle East.
Fine. Let the environmentalists have their way—they drive as much as anyone, and high gas prices will hurt them too. Then listen to them complain when coal liquefaction becomes a reality. At present, converting coal into oil is not economically feasible—but with oil at over $140 dollars a barrel, it soon will be. Oil is, all things considered, environmentally friendly. Coal isn’t. Coal mining produces huge amounts of sulfuric acid, which severely damages ecosystems, and it destroys the land mined for years. With oil drilling, you just stick a drill into the ground—in coal mining, the preferred method is strip mining, and the entire landscape is permanently altered. (In fairness to coal companies, they do reclaim the mined land, but the land is still permanently changed. It’s hard to replace a mountaintop).
And those green technologies? They won’t happen. Oil prices are skyrocketing, nuclear power has been at a standstill for forty years, and environmentalism has become very fashionable in many circles. There has never been a better time for green technologies to emerge—yet they haven’t. That is because they don’t work, and probably won’t for the foreseeable future. Solar technology works only when the sun is out (yes, that is obvious, but liberals don’t seem to see that), wind energy in inconvenient (it would take dozens and dozens of wind turbines to power a midsized city) and unmanageable to boot (it is a feast or famine sort of deal—if the wind blows, you have more energy than you know what to do with; if not, then there is no power produced at all). Green technologies sound good, but are ineffective.
On the other hand, the Right hasn’t been very useful on this subject either. Most of OPEC consists of countries at least somewhat unfriendly to the United States. And this year, OPEC will get 1.5 trillion dollars in net revenue. That’s nearly ten percent of the total value of the U.S. Fortune 500. Given that the GOP wants to be the party of national security and all, maybe, just maybe, it isn’t a good idea to let OPEC be America’s foremost energy suppliers?
The environmental lobby is powerful—but if there is one issue conservatives should fight for, it should be for increased drilling. (Thankfully, John McCain is willing to increase offshore drilling, and would expand nuclear power as well). It is insanity to give obviously unfriendly nations a large degree of control over our economy and energy.