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Offshore drilling might help … in 22 years

I hate $4 a gallon gasoline about as much as I plan to hate higher heating bills next winter.

Worse, I don’t think it should have happened to America this way. Why didn’t our federal government plan better for the use of depleting resources? Did we not know we were trapped in the Middle East by our oil consumption?

Now comes presidential candidate John McCain and President Unpopular George Bush to tell us the solution to $4 a gallon gas at the pump lies in granting the oil companies access to offshore drilling, Alaskan drilling and shale drilling.

Wonderful. So when will the relief come? When will this change bring about $2 gas again? Well, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) we should expect these decisions to lower the price of natural gas and oil, should nothing change, no later than 2030.

Yes, you read that right, 2030. Of course, that far out we can’t know what oil prices will be, nor how much this will influence those prices. It could reduce gas then from $9 per gallon to $8 per gallon. Or, it could have no impact at all.

But then why advocate this position? Would it not be more effective to combine serious conservation efforts, something our innovative businesses and industry are already accomplishing, with new technologies to free us of oil dependence?

Sweden is using hydrogen successfully and wood in coal plants. Brazil is using sugar-based Ethanol with far greater success than our corn based Ethanol.

Isn’t the real American way the path to innovation rather than the path to continued dependence upon the Middle East and global oil companies whose loyalty is to profit, not the needs of Americans?

But McCain and Bush, hand in hand, seem determined to continue to expand the Bush legacy. This time the legacy apparently will be to shift our shorelines to the control of the oil companies before Bush leaves office, sort of a final poke in the eye to all Americans every time they buy gas or pay their heating bill.

These same oil companies already have federal leases on 68 million acres where they have not decided to drill for oil because the price is not yet high enough. Yes, that’s right, they have leases to drill today, but they are not drilling. And the reason is simple…they are in the oil business to make profit, not to keep your price of gasoline down.

Congress periodically calls in Big Oil to explain why Americans are being charged so much and their profits are so high. The executives show empathy for the terrible problems caused by high prices and reflected remorsefully in their obscene profits. They are saddened and embarrassed that they are doing so well while we are not.

But what they avoid saying is pretty simple: “It is not our job to save Americans money at the pump. It is our job to make our investors profit. And we are doing that quite well thank you.”

Now if you think for a moment that granting these oil leases off our coastlines will help you and I, keep in mind that oil prices are a reflection of demand…as long as we demand all the oil produced, then prices will remain high no matter how many oil fields we offer to Big Oil.

If you want lower oil prices there must be alternative energy sources to lower demand.

Sen. McCain and his pal Unpopular George Bush think you can’t figure this out.

Jim Crawford is a contributing columnist for The Ironton Tribune.