In his July 15 press conference, President Bush suggested that our energy costs could be reduced by permitting more offshore drilling - with particular emphasis on drilling on the outer continental shelf in the Gulf of Mexico. He said that Congress should lift the restrictions on drilling in the outer continental shelf. He then went on to say that "the only obstacle standing between the American public and this 'vast resource' is the U.S. Congress." His statement is now being seriously discussed in the media as if it really was a solution to energy costs. However, it you actually look into the offshore oil business, you find that Mr. Bush conveniently left out a number of facts.
Shallow-water rigs rest on the ocean floor - this type of drilling has been going on for more than 50 years. As for deepwater drilling that Mr. Bush talked about, it is an altogether different technology. There are many obstacles, none of which is Congress. Deepwater drilling is a very complex operation, and an incredibly expensive one. There are fewer than 50 deepwater rigs in the world. They rent for $500,000 to $600,000 per day - and that is just for the rig. Labor, material, supplies, and offshore support are additional costs. Obviously, hurricanes are a serious threat to drilling rigs in the open ocean.
Deepwater drilling has only become economically feasible because of high oil prices, meaning that oil obtained from the outer continental shelf will certainly do nothing to lower energy costs. President Bush must know this. He came from the oil industry. However, it makes a nice sound bite to claim that energy prices would go down if only Congress would allow us to tap into the "vast resources" off the continental shelf.
Alaska oil ends up in Japan, not U.S.
Several years ago on my dream trip to Alaska, I stood at the base of the Alaskan pipeline and was awestruck by the size of it and the amount of oil it transports. I remarked to one of the guides that I couldn't imagine why we are worried about running out of oil when we have all of this. He looked at me quizzically and said "Oh, none of this goes to us. It all goes to Japan." I asked him why and he said that the oil from this pipeline isn't the same quality of oil that we use here in the states.
I can't help but wonder why we spent billions and billions of taxpayer money to build the pipeline, only to export the oil to another country. How is this new oil they are searching for going to be any different? Are we going to pay billions more for something we won't even get the benefit from? I sure wish I knew someone who could answer these questions, or at least correct me if I am wrong.
Seeing, or not, isn't reason to drill for oil
In The Blade's recent story about the Republican trip to Alaska "Lawmakers see tundra as ripe for oil drilling," by politics writer Tom Troy, a few things jumped out at me. The most significant were remarks from Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Urbana). If his remarks about what he saw make it back to Alaska's residents, tell them I am very sorry.
Just because you don't see something doesn't mean it isn't there, Mr. Jordan. Take the caribou. Even though they were in the vicinity of the existing oil fields, and you told The Blade you saw them, you also say you didn't see them and thus it's time to drill. Did you see them or not, sir, and how is seeing or not seeing caribou a justification for drilling for oil?
Now Mr. Jordan, how about the polar bears? You say you didn't see them either, and I would probably have to believe you on that, since anyone who can Google "polar bears" would learn that most of their time is spent hunting on the water, from the ice. Way to research that one.
And finally, Mr. Jordan, you say you didn't see "Bambi." Well, sir, Bambi is a cartoon.
If we are using not seeing caribou, polar bears, and Bambi as criteria to decide where to drill for oil, let's all get our drillin' gear and head on over to Mr. Jordan's house because I bet I won't see any of those things in his yard. Think there's oil there?
Oust lawmakers who block energy search
The current policy of Congress to exploit partisan policies over the needs of citizens is appalling. The current Congress holds the opinion that drilling will take years to effect our oil needs. They also hold that nuclear energy and clean coal should not be supported. These opinions and lack of an energy policy for the United States citizens is reason enough for replacement of our representatives.
When an attempt to gather information on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is touted as a "junket" by the opposition, the opposition needs to be replaced. There is nothing wrong with knowing what the facts are at ANWR. The congressional naysayers say that it would take 10 years to get the oil and in the meantime, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would reduce its price in an attempt to defray the drilling on U.S. land. Maybe I am naive, but isn't that what the goal is? If we don't start now, we will never get to the point of energy independence. The solution is to replace our current congressional representatives who only criticize and block appropriate actions.
Larry C. Stalter
Slowing down saves on gasoline usage
During two recent automobile trips totalling 3,500 miles, I became aware of how simple it is to lower my gasoline expenses without help from the government, the Saudis, or the oil companies.
In the past, I flowed with the traffic on the highway, which meant driving 65 to 70 mph, depending on the speed limits. On these recent trips, cruise control maintained a steady 60 mph on my six-cylinder minivan. During these trips, I passed fewer than a dozen vehicles on the highway.
My arrivals at the motels were an hour later than usual. However, I noted I was much less tired, less stressed out, and much more relaxed than when I drove the top speed limit.
My average consumption of gas was slightly above 27 miles per gallon even though I had cargo of more than 1,200 pounds, which was better than previous trips, where I averaged 22 miles per gallon. I used 30 fewer gallons of gasoline and, at more than $4 per gallon, saved $120.
Perhaps we should consider saving gas by slowing down instead of complaining that "they" should do something about high prices.
There is only a finite amount of oil on this planet. Natural resources do become exhausted. If in doubt, talk to the oil men in Texas and Oklahoma or the iron ore workers in Minnesota.
Thomas R. Michalski
MonoMobile hopes to be part of solution
As an inventor of the MonoMobile I wanted to thank The Blade for running the photograph and short story about our invention in the July 22 edition of the newspaper. While the invention is unique in that it runs on roads like an automobile, but then hooks to an overhead rail for long-distance travel (while the driver relaxes, the vehicle is automatically guided by computers and the batteries are recharged), the best part of the invention is the results: a 500 percent increase in fuel efficiency versus the automobile (equivalent to 80 cents a gallon gasoline); 70 percent reduction in transportation greenhouse gas emissions; complete oil independence, and infrastructure costs that are one-tenth of roadways.
It is a complicated but interesting idea that is hard to describe in a short story. I hope that some of your readers will visit our Web site at www.monomobile.com to learn more about it. We plan on making this part of the national debate on solutions to our current crises over energy, global warming, and traffic congestion.
Does anyone else find it odd that with all the complaining about a recession and people not being able to afford gas and food and pay for their mortgages, the new Batman movie broke all records for a movie opening with more than $150 million over a recent weekend?
I guess we can just redefine "disposable" income.