Oil imports to the United States steadily decreased from 2005 through 2011, with U.S. exports steadily increasing by lots more. Current-trend projections show the U.S. will be a net oil exporter by around 2017. Incredible.
That has to be a shock for those who chant “Drill, Baby, Drill” and “Drill Here, Drill Now,” thinking more U.S. production will be used to reduce our gas prices.
Concern about high gas prices was expressed in a Gazette “Our View” editorial, “Wish them well as they begin to drill” published last Feb. 21. It states “… gasoline prices are soaring and threatening to reach record highs of $4.25 a gallon in April on the heels of President Barack Obama’s refusal to allow a major oil pipeline from Canada through the United States.” The editorial worries that “high gas prices could wipe out the slow and delicate recovery,” even while admitting “it would be a gargantuan stretch to suggest that successful oil production in El Paso County could lower fuel prices.”
Nevertheless, the editorial argued that drilling shouldn’t be opposed — get this — because “Americans, including those along the Front Range of Colorado, need to accept oil and gas exploration and production as a patriotic duty,” adding that we can’t “afford to say ‘not in my backyard.’”
The editorial related higher gas prices to that pipeline, but that has nothing to do with it. Actually, the U.S. imported 433 million barrels less in 2011 than in 2005, but exported 642 million barrels more. Yes, that’s correct. Oil corporations are exporting more oil, while importing less. Is that patriotic?
The Gazette stated, “Our entire economy depends upon a steady and abundant supply of oil, and it will for generations to come.” But does exporting more U.S. oil create “steady and abundant supply” or reduce gas prices? Obviously not.
Plus, in 2011, oil corporations exported more gasoline, diesel and other fuels than were imported, according to the Energy Department.
Why is this happening? Follow the money. These practices by the oil oligopoly create U.S. oil scarcity. This market manipulation drives up gas prices and sells more oil on international markets at prices driven up by speculation. Result: increased profits.
Very clever: Plunder U.S. resources for profit, impose a “gas tax”-like burden on Americans, and fundamentally undermine the U.S. economy. Remember, once oil corporations have those oil leases, it’s their oil, not our oil, and they do with it as they like. Their duty is to increased profits, not patriotism.
Some may argue, “Well, the U.S. just doesn’t have the refinery capacity because of those damn environmentalists.” But that ignores the fact that Idle Refinery Capacity increased from 30.3 million barrels/year in 2004 to 261 million in 2011.
Want to guess why oil corporations want TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline? To use that idle capacity for more exports.
1. Fracking uses significant amounts of water while the Southern Delivery System is built at Colorado Springs Utilities ratepayer expense. Note that’s instead of making the expense explicit as a tax (which I wager would never be approved by voters).
2. Fracking pollutes, and it’s no accident that the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 contains the “Halliburton Loophole,” an exemption for gas drilling and extraction from requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Experience across the U.S. shows fracking pollutes, and that’s just really OK according to U.S. law.
3. Exporting so much oil, depriving the U.S. of these resources in the future, is a national security concern. We’ll someday need that oil.
4. Earthquakes and subsidence? There are coal mines beneath my home.
5. Global warming is real; our burning of hydrocarbons is causing it. Face that and the fact that the amount of carbon already contained in proven coal and oil and gas reserves, fossil fuel currently planned to be burned, is five times greater than the amount projected to cause a 2-degree rise in planetary temperature.
Fracking, given the risks and the draining of U.S. resources, is simply crazy. It must stop. Colorado Springs City Council and the mayor should do all they can to stop it and promote renewable energy.
Bob Powell, Ph.D. physics, MBA, is a consultant using systems thinking to understand organizational, economic and social issues.