'Drill, baby, drill' will not meet U.S. oil needs

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

Hell has broken free tonight, No pale deception anymore. You awoke him, now he will feed on the lies. He demands your sacrifice.

-- Disturbed

I have the day marked in my memory: It was Dec. 17, 2011.

That was the day I stopped at a gas-'n-sip in east Alabama and paid $1.99 a gallon for regular unleaded gasoline. I don't expect to pay less than $2 again in my lifetime, so I've mentally preserved the moment.

I look on that date with particular sadness because I was one of those naive people who believed once former Vice President Dick Cheney and former President George W. Bush's incestuous ties with Big Oil were severed, the price of gasoline in this country would end its scary rise. I foolishly believed BP and ExxonMobil and Chevron's slimy tentacles would retract as soon as their BFFs slinked out of office.

I, like so many others, underestimated the reach of those tentacles. And I foolishly believed the new young president who came sweeping into office on promises of change and accountability would be immune to the lure of all those Big Oil dollars.

Sadly, though, as President Obama and key members of his administration have filled their pockets and campaign chests with the unending supply of petro dollars, those of us who believed change was coming have had to accept a large dose of business as usual. Change in the way the oil companies do business, it has become apparent, cannot overcome all those zeroes on campaign checks.

As gasoline prices yo-yo their way up and down locally -- $3.27 today, $3.42 tomorrow, $3.54 the next day, and then back to $3.42 -- heading, experts tell us, inexorably toward $4 a gallon by springtime, I've listened with interest to the complaints. Many, who are tired of planning their trips to the gas pump around the daily commodities futures reports, have simply given up.

"We're going to pay whatever they charge us," they say resignedly. "They know we can't do without gas."

Others, though, the ones whose anger is stirred with every overnight 16-cent increase, offer what they perceive to be simple solutions. They range from "Drill, baby, drill ..." to "Explore, baby, explore ..." to the more radical "Bomb, baby, bomb ..."

These are the people who support a Canadian-based, Chinese-owned pipeline running the depth of our country, through environmentally fragile aquifers, just in the hopes that some of the gas produced from the venture ends up at their corner 7-11.

And these are the people who offer such sentiments as "too bad" when oil workers lose their lives in an offshore explosion and an entire ecosystem is devastated, species endangered or wiped out and commercial fishermen whose families have harvested the Gulf of Mexico for generations left without livelihood.

For this group, there is only one answer to America's oil gluttony: More, more, more.

We are, by God, the United States of America. And if we need more oil to fuel our 15-mile-a-gallon SUVs or our 6-mile-a-gallon Hummers, then we are entitled to it. (Note to those who discuss with disgust the "entitlement mentality" of America's inner cities: Where do we suppose this concept of U.S. entitlement originated?)

Here's a bit of reality that history offers: We can drill, baby, drill and explore, baby, explore all we want. That's not going to drop the price of gasoline at the pump more than a few cents a gallon. When it comes to greed, the politicians who stuff their pockets -- and freezers -- with legalized bribe money cannot hold a candle to the oil companies. The more oil they sell, the more they're going to promote the exploitation of emerging nations to sink their hooks into them.

A little note for those of you naive enough to think American oil companies are concerned about supplying domestic consumers' fuel needs: Check into America's list of top exports last year, when we were all fretting about gas price increases and foreign dependency. The No. 1 product in dollars exported by our country last year? Oil.

There is a way, though, we could beat Big Oil at its own game. We could cut back on our usage, create a glut in the market that would force the oil companies and even the petro gods in OPEC to cut prices. Sure, they would balk at first, but the bottom line is that they can only store so much oil. And they can't drink it.

Of course, that would mean sacrifice on the part of American consumers who don't really have much of a grasp of the concept. Why come up with a little planning to cut the number of trips one makes, carpool, downsize to more fuel-efficient automobiles or demand that industries meet more stringent fuel-saving guidelines when it's easier to complain, blame others or just give in?

Bottom line, the only way to bring the cost of fossil fuels down in this country is to invest in new technology that will lessen our dependence or cut consumption. Those, unfortunately, are choices that require collective action on the part of Americans. Which essentially makes that $4 gas inevitable.

Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcheralbanyherald.com.


Abytaxpayer 3 years, 9 months ago

Ok now I am waiting for Carlton to post photos of his new "Volt" ....or is this just more lefty preaching "Do as I say and NOT as I do"? Once all the "Green" preachers lead the way with their own "green" cars more people will follow or at least we will know them by the cars they drive as they know us by the cars we drive. BTW I get 28 hwy.


KaosinAlbany 3 years, 9 months ago

We have almost caught up with Europe now and their high gas prices. I think $4 per gallon is going to force people to cut back on fuel. We'll see what happens in the next few months. I just hope it is going to be like the housing market and cause the "bubble to bust".


TrixibelleBento 3 years, 9 months ago

I did my part. I got rid of my gas hog and bought a small Japanese import. My gas bill went from $65 per tank to $30. Now it costs me $45 to fill it. I don't drive anywhere other than to the grocery store, gym, and work. I've cut all I can. Hybrids are NOT going down in price. I've even gotten used to the ugly Prius and would even buy one if they weren't $27K. The Volt is a disgrace--until energy efficient cars start dropping in price like calculators and desktop computers, no one is going to buy them!

We have urban sprawl which means we all have to have cars to survive. If I lived in NYC, San Francisco or another large city like that, I wouldn't drive anymore. However, you can't live without a car in Albany, so I've done the best I can.

I'm not buying the party line anymore: "this is because of tensions in the Middle East". When WEREN'T there tensions in the Middle East??? The volatility of oil affects everyone--planes, trains and automobiles. OPEC could bring down prices if they wanted to, but the Sheiks want us all to pay royally since they hate the West, though they crave all the stuff we have.


buddy 3 years, 9 months ago

"Drill baby drill" may not cure the oil/gas problem, but closing refineries, cutting oil drilling permits and not allowing things like the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada certainly won't fix anything!!!!


Engineer 3 years, 9 months ago

Prices have gone up 83% since Obama has been in office. Can somebody show me what he has done to lower gas prices? So far he has done nothing but place more regulations that bring up the price.


waltspecht 3 years, 9 months ago

It is the Traders that drive the price. They buy the crude, sell it to the refinery, then buy the gas and diesel and sell it to the distributors. Making a profit all around. They sell to the highest bidder, and really don't care. OPEC doesn't care who buys the crude, as long as they sell it. So set your sights on these money changers, because they are far more involved than Carlton apparently knows.


Sister_Ruby 3 years, 9 months ago

"Bullcrap baby Bullcrap", which is the Obama Admin's motto, will just get us more Solyndras etc etc.


gotanyfacts 3 years, 9 months ago

Carlton says: "A little note for those of you naive enough to think American oil companies are concerned about supplying domestic consumers' fuel needs: Check into America's list of top exports last year, when we were all fretting about gas price increases and foreign dependency. The No. 1 product in dollars exported by our country last year? Oil."

Actually, Carlton should have said "oil products". We process oil that has been imported and export the refined products such as jet fuel. In any case, his inference that American oil companies are not concerned about supplying Americans fuel needs demonstrates a gross lack of logic. Is there a shortage of these products due to exports? No. Do the profits from exports help to develop domestic production? Yes.


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