Last week, three of the world's biggest oil companies reported record-breaking quarterly profits in excess of $27 billion. It's pretty hard to fathom that kind of money - but what is easier for the rest of us to see in real terms is also breaking records: the cost of a gallon of gas.
And of course as the gas prices skyrocket yet again, rather than getting the energy leadership our country really needs, we hear the same old calls to drill for more domestic oil - especially in some of our last wild places, like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Polar Bear Seas (the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off the coast of Alaska).We aren't hearing national leadership call for more conservation, nor are we hearing any plans that would help stop our addiction to oil. I find this shocking and not shocking. Why should we be surprised that Big Oil wants more? Despite racking up billions in profits ("Since 2001, the major oil companies have amassed close to $600 billion in profits "), they still ask for and receive billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies every year.
Conservation has to be part of our solution. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a release last week, "Americans consume 25% percent of the world's produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world?s proven oil reserves."
Here's the information I like to share: Data from the most recent U.S. Energy Information Administration (a division of the U.S. Department of Energy) assessment reveals that alternative technologies and reduced consumption have ten times the power to reduce oil imports than potential Arctic National Wildlife Refuge production. (PDF)
Drilling in our treasured, wild places won't do anything to ease pain at the pump or create energy independence. Even at peak production, which could take 20 years, the Arctic Refuge would produce roughly a year's supply of oil.
Besides reducing our consumption, we also need better fuel efficiency and renewable energy. We need an auto industry that does not fight fuel economy increases every step of the way. We need an EPA that allows states to create stronger fuel economy/emissions standards.
It's time to stop calling for more oil drilling and it's time take back the giveaways to Big Oil. Let's invest those subsidies in clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency - choices that will protect the environment, save us money and create jobs.
Image credit::US Energy Information Agency, Lower 48 Crude Oil Reserves and Production