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We are on the verge of an energy crisis

Published June 12. 2010 09:00AM

BP is being vilified because of the oil spoil in the Gulf of Mexico and the inability to stop the oil flow. As of today, they are gathering 15,000 barrels daily. While this is not the entire amount being dispersed into the Gulf, it is much better than it was. I do not vilify BP. I recognize that we need gasoline and oil products to survive. Their rig crashed, burned and sunk. We don't know what caused it. The rumors are from the ridiculous (North Korea torpedoed it), to a somewhat believable conspiracy theory (Obama did it to push through his Cap and Trade legislation).

Alternative energy is great and I am committed to solar power to meet most of my home energy needs. Unfortunately, I am the only person in my area investing in solar. Everyone wants a family van or SUV and several other cars to drive around in. These cars use gasoline! We use oil, natural gas and propane to heat our homes, offices and factories. We are addicted to energy and our addiction is growing every day.

The government knows this, yet they banned oil activity on 300 million acres of land and over 460 million acres off shore. The government has also decided not to let us drill in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), which has over 10 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. Just over the border in Canada, they are not only drilling without harming the environment, but they are safely transporting the oil by an environment friendly pipeline to the south. To quote Newt Gingrich, we need to drill here, drill now.

The Bakken oil field has over 3.65 billion barrels of proven, extractable oil. ( So far, the only really serious extraction has been in Saskatchewan, Canada. Even though there are massive deposits in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, drilling permits are almost impossible to obtain. Let's drill for this oil, refine it and build pipelines to bring this energy to market.

The oil shale in Colorado and Wyoming has 1.5 trillion barrels of oil, which are five times the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia. We are just now getting our act together and actively developing new techniques to extract this oil ( It will be years before we reach full production.

Right here in Pennsylvania, the Marcellus Formation contains over 170 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves worth over $1 trillion. In 2008 we started drilling in earnest to recover this energy. As technology improves, we will be able to recover more natural gas from this massive formation. If the royalties are managed properly, we can use this as a state revenue source to eliminate the deficit and possibly reduce sales and state income taxes.

Imagine the jobs that will be created bringing these American reserves to the surface and building the pipelines to transport them to all of our major cities. Oil and natural gas production and the related pipeline construction and maintenance would create several hundred thousand jobs. These would be highly paid jobs, not temporary census jobs. By retraining the unemployed we can take them off the dole and turn them into taxpayers. The royalties and income tax revenue could be used to reduce the deficit and the national debt. Furthermore, we would not have the risk of massive oil tankers coming into our harbors to deliver oil from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

Both the republicans and the democrats have delayed efforts to develop our energy resources. Congress and the Presidents Obama and Bush have abdicated our petroleum resource management. Oil and gasoline are critical to the defense of our country and the maintenance of our life style. By withholding permits and delaying energy recovery projects for decades, our government has forced the oil companies to go to impossible lengths to obtain the petroleum we need to sustain our economy. As a result, BP and other companies have been forced to drill in places that are as inhospitable as the moon and just as hard to access.

To get the oil our citizens require, these companies were required to go where they could get permits. They have been safely drilling in 5,000 feet of water for decades. When something goes wrong at that depth, humans cannot fix it. Only robots and remote control devices, operated from surface vessels, can take the required measures to stop the flow. When things go wrong at sea, we need divers, not robots to remediate the damage and contain the oil. This means that the freeze on near shore oil drilling must be lifted and it must be lifted now.

We must grant the permits to exploit the Bakker, Colorado, ANWR and other oil reserves. We import 13.710 million barrels of oil daily at a cost of $959,700,000 per day or about $350 billion dollars a year. Worse, many of the countries that supply us with oil do not like us (Hugo Chavez, Venezuela), or had 15 of their citizens attack the World Trade Center, murdering over 3,000 Americans. (Saudi Arabia). Should we be giving our money to these countries? Why not spend that money here, developing our own reserves, employing our own people and reducing the deficits of our federal and state governments? Have we forgotten the 1973 OPEC oil embargo that crippled our country, creating gasoline shortages that resulted in rationing? Have we forgotten that oil is a weapon in the hands of those who have it to be used against those who need it? It is only a matter of time until they use the weapon against us again.

We must develop and use our own natural resources in an environmentally safe manner and we must start drilling now so we can bring these resources to market in the next decade. Concurrent to this effort we should increase our development of green energy. New homes should have Dow Powerhouse solar shingles on the roof to generate electricity our homes. Windmills should be placed on hilltops around the country. Where feasible, we should be using geothermal, tidal, and hydro for electric generation. We can do this. We really can! The politicians just need to cut the red tape and make it happen. Talking will not work. We need action at every level of government, in every business and every household to achieve energy independence. Most importantly, we need these actions immediately.

© 2010 Gordon Smith All rights Reserved

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