The Stalking Horse - Should We Drill in Anwar?

A "Stalking Horse" is a horse that has been trained to stand in front and draw attention away from, obscure, and conceal the hunter. This phrase has entered our language to describe an issue that is intended to draw attention away from, obscure, and conceal real issues. Proponents of the "Stalking Horse" issue will be delighted to discuss and debate their Stalking Horse issue indefinitely, if it will serve to avoid having to address the real issues.

Such an "issue" is: "Should we drill in Anwar?" and the similar "issue" of: "Should we be drilling off the coast of our cities?"

There are some 60 MILLION square miles of the Earth's surface that are available for oil exploration and development. There are a few areas representing a tiny portion of that, that were put "off limits" for what seemed at the time to be for some very good and valid reasons. And no one really even knows if there actually are commercially attractive quantities of oil in those "off limit" areas. If Congress does authorize drilling in Anwar and off the coast of American cities, it will take years to bid out the rights to various parcels. More years to do detailed geological studies to determine where, and whether, there are in fact promising sites for oil development, and to drill test wells to verify that those sites are commercially attractive. Then it will take many additional years to drill production wells and build the pipelines and other infrastructure required to bring that oil to refineries. The rosiest projections are that the first drops of oil from these areas might begin to be available in about 10 years, and full production in 15 to 20 years. And no, there was no movement to open up drilling in Anwar and off the coast of American cities 15 to 20 years ago - there were millions of square miles of other more accessible and more commercially attractive sites to be explored and developed.

But according to conspiracy theorists, it is because those areas are "off limits" that is the sole reason why we have a problem with oil! "The Government doesn't want us to be energy independent!" "If it weren't for preventing the development of those areas we would have plenty of oil!"

The real issue is that the world is burning up oil as fast as we can pump it out of the ground. The Anwar issue is, simply, a way to find some one to blame other than to blame the gluttony of the American people. The insatiable appetite of the American people that their every desire must be fulfilled, their every whim satisfied. The American people who burn up 6 times as much oil per person as people in the rest of the world. We are coming to the end of the "Oil Age", and will need to move on to other energy sources. The real issue is that we need to tell people what they can not do whatever they want, that there are consequences to their actions.

We don't know by what means we will propel vehicles after the "Oil Age". Will it be plug-in electrics? And how will we generate the additional electricity? Or will the electricity be generated on board from hydrogen fuel cells? Or will it be ethanol, perhaps from sugar cane as the Brazilians have so ably demonstrated, which might be a boon to some Caribbean nations and some nations south of us that could surely use an economic boost? Or will it be from fats or oils from crops, or oils from algae? Or will it be with compressed natural gas? Or will it be some other technology, or some combination of all of the above.

And what we clearly need to do while we are developing these alternatives, is to conserve the remaining supply of oil. To drive the most fuel efficient vehicle we can find, and to drive it at moderate speeds and with gradual acceleration to get the best fuel economy we can. When practical, we need to car pool, ride public transportation, move closer to the work place, and otherwise avoid wasting this precious resource. As we have seen from the reaction when gasoline got to $5 a gallon, the best way to achieve this is to make gasoline expensive - add on taxes to drive the price up to where it will influence behavior. And high prices will create the public demand that will spur the development of more efficient vehicles, vehicles that use alternative fuels, and spur the development of those fuels.

It is clear that the "issues" of drilling in Anwar and off the coast of American cities have little to do with the real issue of confronting our dependency on oil as a fuel. At most, any additional oil we will eventually get from these sources can only perpetuate our dependence a little longer. And yet, a major political party has made this "Stalking Horse" a cornerstone of their energy policy! They have nominated a vice presidential candidate whose chief qualification seems to be that she is an ardent supporter of drilling in Anwar.

Read more about this topic and 25 chapters on other thought provoking topics in the highly acclaimed poignant and witty new book "Running Amok - Our Grandchildren will Curse Us" by Dave Rosenak. Check out the web site Whether you think the book will start a revolution, or whether you think the author should stick all of his stinking opinions back where the sun don't shine, you won't be bored!

This article was published on 09 Oct 2008 and has been viewed 885 times
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