I know that in Sean Hannity's superlative wet dream, God comes down from the Heavens to his second home - the USA - and cracks the crust of the Earth all about us to extract oil, pitch it in perfect drums and place it on the White House lawn.
Yay! Oil independence from the rest of the world! We win because of Jesus! Unicorns farting rainbows abound!
The sad truth is that even if we open up ALL drilling EVERYWHERE in the USA, we probably wouldn't see a whole lot of change, let alone energy independence.
Here's a short short version of how the process goes:
- Oil Drilling Company contacts the USA government and says "We think there's oil here."
- US grants them exploratory rights.
- After a few years, studies are concluded, and the Oil Drilling Company has found something viable. They purchase lease rights and plop down a few billion for a drilling rig.
- Crude magic happens, pumping, barreling, etc.
- Oil Drilling Company sells it to an Oil Refining Company or refines it themselves.
- Refining company splits crude into the most viable end products, sells some down the line, sells fuel to a Gasoline Company.
- Gasoline company sells to affiliates.
- We put gas in our car.
And here's why the right wing rhetoric of "US drilling = Energy Independence" = Bullshit
- Drilling rights only put a little bit of coin in USA's pocket.
- (We do NOT own the oil that comes from our land.)
- Oil Drilling Companies sell their crude to an Oil Refining Company at the best price they can get.
- Refining companies sell their products (gasoline) for the best price they can get.
The Entire Argument is Anathema to All Conservatism!
The only reason we talk about countries like Saudi Arabia as "oil-rich" is because they have government-run oil companies (we have a reserve because at some point the government bought up a shitload and put it in a garage somewhere). If the USA wanted to own the oil drilled on our land, they would need to create drilling, refining, and gasoline companies all owned by the governemnt - in order to remove ourselves from the much-lauded "free-market" system for a controlled price of oil - and ignore any sort of fair bidding to potential service providers.
But the additional problem here is that even if, in my opening paragraph, God came down and turned every drop of oil into gasoline, we wouldn't have that much. I mean, sure, we'd have a lot, but it would be finite.
The Bigger Argument
The bigger problem we're facing with Big Oil is that it is, precisely, big oil. And it acts like it is infinite. But it is NOT. And one day, Hannity's SUV is going to run out of gas and he won't have enough money to buy more (if there is any more).
I understand that Conservo-Repubs are in the pocket of the corporations, but open your eyes! Drilling here will do NOTHING. Eventually it will all run out. That's why we use the word "sustainable." It will hurt you too.
So why are conservative folks arguing against renewable energy when their current fav is going to eventually leave them poor before going away? It's not totally cost-effective yet but that's because it's relatively new. Do they truly want the rich to get richer? Are they looking for a global epidemic of destruction? Can they not wean from the reach-around they get from Oil Companies? Do they enjoy their nipples rubbed with baby oil?
Let me put forth two options:
- In the USA, we take a sober look at gasoline and alternative energies and slowly transition as quickly as possible.
- In the USA, we ignore the warning signs, play along with "all is good here" and one day it spikes and then runs out. Millions - billions - die in the chaos.
#2 will happen to much of the world (hehe #2). It's going to take someone everyone else calls crazy to see the reality and perhaps just save the lives of millions.
Thank you President Obama.