Photo taken August 2, 2008 at an undisclosed Sunoco Gas Station in Philadelphia.
Last week's energy debate in Congress gives voters concerned about gasoline prices a good idea where U.S. energy policy is headed. If Barack Obama is in the White House, Democrats win a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and Nancy Pelosi has fewer pesky Republicans to ignore in the House, this will be energy rule No. 1:
Forget more drilling. Offshore. Alaska. Doesn't matter.
Then step two, let slip by an unidentified Democratic aide recently in The Hill newspaper: "Right now, our strategy on gas prices is, 'Drive small cars and wait for the wind.' "
In other words, suck it up, gas-guzzlers. Break out the Carter-era sweaters and hair shirts, turn down the thermostats this winter, and let the drill bits rust. Policies of the 1970s are good enough for the 21st century.
Let's not develop our own native resources - oil, coal and nuclear - let the average citizen cut back to bare bones while Pelosi travels in military aircraft, and the big O travels around in the O Plane o' Change.
In the great state of PA, elected officials have made questionable statements on our energy crisis. Rep. Sestak (D-PA), when recently questioned about his stance on our energy crisis, he spitted vemonously about his facts, unwilling to see a bigger picture. Craig Williams, republican candidate for Sestak's seat, recently returned from Alaska provides some answers instead of spittle. Ferris deftly outlines both strategies in the following exchange:
And that's where the consensus ends. You see the differences from the presidential campaign to the local races, including Pennsylvania's Seventh District, with Democratic freshman Rep. Joe Sestak against Republican Craig Williams.
Both candidates rightly recognize there are short- and long-term solutions to the energy crisis. Both are correct that a mix of energy sources is needed. They differ on drilling.
Sestak is unequivocal about the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge on his campaign Web site - "prohibit drilling" - but in interviews says he'd consider more drilling if oil companies can satisfactorily answer some questions:
Why open up more areas to drilling if 68 million acres in already leased lands aren't in production?
If the goal is to help reduce prices, what's the practicality of drilling in ANWR when its oil wouldn't be available for a decade, and when that oil would have little impact on prices (he quotes government estimates of 1.8 cents a gallon by 2025)?
The debate should be about relief to consumers, not producers, Sestak says.
"My job is not to make profits larger although I care about a healthy oil industry," Sestak says. "My job is to take care of my constituents."
Williams has just returned from Alaska and suggests some answers that might nudge Sestak and his colleagues into the more-drilling camp:
Companies are ready to drill more on leased lands, particularly in the Alaskan National Petroleum Reserve, which was set aside in the 1920s specifically for oil exploration. What's the holdup? One problem is lawsuits by environmentalists, Williams says.
That 10-year window before oil production begins? Williams says that time can be almost halved if Congress streamlines the leasing process and cuts other pre-drilling red tape - without sacrificing environmental protections.
And Williams dismisses the notion that more oil production will not lower gasoline prices: "When people say this will have only a nominal impact on prices, that's saying we don't have to do anything at all."
Keep two things in mind, Williams advises. One, ANWR estimates are based on decades-old studies, and sites often produce considerably more oil than anticipated. Two, news drives future markets, and oil prices have already dipped since the lifting of the presidential moratorium on offshore drilling. Imagine the change if Congress committed itself to an energy package that includes drilling for oil, nuclear power, natural gas, clean-burning coal and renewables.
Obviously, much education is needed on this critical issue facing modern America. Voters can become more educated on our energy options: McCain Lexington Project, as soon as the O campaign sticks to one energy plan, I'll post it here.