In Robert Hammons’ letter to the editor entitled, “ Clear out the liberal road blocks,” published in the Tracy Press on March 4, Hammons correctly states that, “We are captives of Middle East oil.” However, his explanation as to why we remain so is simplistic and short-sighted. He declares that liberals are pushing green energy before it can replace oil.
From a global competition standpoint, we are already doing too little, too late. China has effectively won the race to lead the world in production of solar energy hardware. China still uses coal, and to a lesser though increasing extent oil, for its primary domestic energy production fuels, but because of its early investment and preparation is already in position to capitalize on that investment superior to anything the U.S. will be able to accomplish with existing technology in the solar energy field, given our failure to get in the game with the required dedication.
Experts will say we’ve already lost that race, and our best hope is to lead the world with the next new technology.
Big Oil and the auto industry have been very effective at squelching technological advances in energy in this country for the past half century, and politicians and citizens like Mr. Hammons have been sold a bill of goods that perpetuates the fossil fuel mindset.
There is no doubt that fossil fuels, including oil, will continue to be required during the transition to a new energy basis, and I would be willing to support increased domestic oil and natural gas production to offset the foreign dependency during that transition, though not likely in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge or off the California coast — especially with the recent discoveries of huge shale deposits in the northern Midwest.
However, I would not do so without first imposing strict regulations on speculation of food and energy commodities, which has been suggested to impact prices by as much as 35 percent, and not before increasing fossil fuel refining capacity, which is held at suppressed levels to tighten the supply-demand gap, again causing volatile price spikes when global or domestic production levels are threatened.
Crude oil and gasoline prices are now rapidly increasing in this country, supposedly due to the threatened production in Libya, despite the facts that Libya produces a mere 3 percent of global crude and that 0 percent of that is imported to the United States.
Let’s not paper over the structural issues of speculation and refining capacity by merely blindly increasing domestic production, which would have almost no immediate impact on today’s prices and economy, but could have dramatic environmental impact, such as we recently witnessed in the Gulf of Mexico and for decades will endure, not to mention the effect of kicking the can even farther down the road.
Economists as well as environmentalists will agree that structural improvements with innovative technology is a smarter approach for America than the tunnel-vision approach of simply digging a bunch of holes in the ground and sea floor.