“Our dependence on foreign energy is like a foreign tax on the American people.”

– President G.W. Bush, April 27, 2005

Experts warn us that the world is about to run out of cheap oil forever. Within the next few years, global production will peak, yet demand will keep rising. Unless swift action is taken, this oil “crisis” will create economic and political discontinuity of historic proportions.

Here’s the problem in a nutshell …

  • Gasaholics: The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s total population, but consumes 25 percent of the world’s total supply of oil. U.S. demand for oil was up 3.4 percent in 2004, while daily imports of crude oil have climbed to a record 11 million barrels a day. (SUV sales/GM, watch out!)

  • Price inflation: Oil prices have jumped from $17 per barrel in 2001 to over $55 per barrel in 2005 – skyrocketing 40 percent in the last year alone! Rising inflation brings rising commodity prices on everything, which boils down to less money in our pockets. (Stock Market bulls, watch out!)

  • Growth drain: According to Merrill Lynch, each one-cent rise in gas prices sucks about $14 billion a year from consumer spending – that’s over $500 billion siphoned out of consumers’ wallets since 2001. (GDP growth, watch out!)

  • Dependence: U.S. dependence on foreign oil rose after the Arab oil embargo in 1973 from approximately 35 percent to more than 55 percent in 2004. The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts this figure will increase to 64 percent by 2020 if domestic supplies do not increase.

  • Maximum capacity: OPEC is already pumping at its highest level since 1979 and has said it will raise production to 30.5 million barrels per day, yet prices still rise. (Watch out for oil wars with China and India!)

  • Alternatives: Alternate energy sources – like wind power and nuclear – will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but won’t eliminate it. Anything we do to become more energy efficient will take time. That is Bush’s No. 1 argument for getting started now, not putting it off. (Watch for creative, long-term solutions.)

The ‘Godforsaken’ Alaskan Arctic: To drill or not to drill?

ANWR – the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – is 19 million acres. If you think of ANWR as a football field, the drilling area is smaller than a postcard. The experts at the U.S. Geological Survey say there could be 16 billion barrels of oil there – about the same as 30 years of imports from Saudi Arabia.

House and Senate negotiators met last Wednesday to discuss legislation that supporters of oil drilling in ANWR say holds the most promise for reducing foreign oil dependency.

“Environmaniacs” claim ANWR is a “crown jewel,” referring to the beautiful Brooks Range mountains seen in all the anti-drilling photos, yet they’re actually 50-100 miles from the coastal plain. The potentially oil-rich area is just flat, treeless tundra.

Winters on the ANWR coastal plain last for nine months – there is total darkness for 58 consecutive days and temperatures drop to 70 degrees below zero. Spit, and your saliva freezes before it hits the ground. But the nasty conditions mean drilling can be done with ice airstrips, roads and ice pad platforms.

When spring finally arrives, the ice pads would all melt, leaving no sign of the drill crews. The caribou would return, along with arctic fox, geese, shore birds and swarms of vicious mosquitoes (“large enough to slow dance with a turkey”). Incidentally, in the arctic, mosquitoes hatch in such multitudes they can actually turn the sky gray.

Opponents of drilling in ANWR say, “it’s the nation’s last true wilderness, a hallowed place, and a pristine environmental area.” But last summer in a Washington Times article titled, “Hardly a Pretty Place: Use ANWR for Oil Exploration,” Jonah Goldberg described it this way: “[I]f you wanted a picture to go with the word ‘Godforsaken’ in the dictionary, ANWR would do nicely.”

Are you tired of allowing Middle East oil monopolies to hold America in a black gold stranglehold by making us pay $2, $3 and soon $4 for a gallon of gas? Me, too. That’s why I’m in favor of Alaska drilling. If we’re going to have to continue importing oil, I’d rather send my dollars to Alaska, instead of to the Middle East. How about you?

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