August 27, 2007
America’s Massive Latent Oil Reserves?

America has an abundance of energy sources--we only need a bit of sanity from Congress to change the equation

AT A CERTAIN point, we need to face facts about the energy crisis in America:

One: There is no energy crisis in America. We pay so much for gas today largely because a small number of legislators prevent us from using our own Heaven-sent natural resources, in Alaska and off our shores. The energy sources are there; we just aren't allowed to use them.

It is madness.

Two: There is no functional alternative to oil, natural gas, nuclear power, and coal as the collective fuel that makes the American economic and social engine run, from the biggest factories to the smallest businesses.

Solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources are, in the present reality, a chimera, a flight of fancy, in terms of their ability to provide the power a thriving and modern America needs. That's not to say we shouldn't continue to provide incentives for their development--we should--but the country is decades away from seeing most alternative energy sources able to play a major role in meeting America's energy needs.

And, as will be detailed in a subsequent column, each of the alternatives--most especially ethanol--comes with serious negatives, particularly for the environment.

Three: There is an appalling lack of leadership in Congress on this issue. And, as two recently passed House bills show, the majority party seems intent on ignoring our natural resources. Consider:

There is likely at least 10 billion barrels worth of oil in Alaska waiting to be extracted. Some estimates say we could see as much as 21 billion gallons of gasoline annually for 20 years, all from a desolate 2,000-acre sliver in an enormous federal site.

These are staggering figures--energy in America that could completely change our nation's dependency on foreign oil. As a Department of the Interior report noted, on-shore federal lands are "estimated to contain 187 trillion cubic feet of natural gas" in addition to the 21 billion barrels of black gold. A Heritage Foundation report translates that: "That 187 trillion cubic feet of natural gas is enough to supply all of America's households for 39 years, and 21 billion barrels of oil represents over 30 years' worth of current imports from Saudi Arabia."

The majority party in Congress, however, has unconscionably, almost fanatically, prevented us from using our own oil--despite modern technology that minimizes environmental footprint, despite the opportunity to ensure careful and responsible extraction.

It is, therefore, not unfair to say the ruling party is directly responsible for not only increasing our pain at the pump, but, far worse, deepening our dependence on foreign sources of energy.

Put another way: Every time we leave our own abundant sources of oil in the dirt, and use the oil from other people's dirt, we're giving money to a handful of dictators and assorted other distasteful types around the world where most other oil is located. Read