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Our country is in a downward spiral

Published March 10. 2012 09:01AM

As I read the news and listen to speeches from our nations leaders it is clear that the administration is leading the country on a path to ruin. The administration has failed us with regard to energy, the economy and foreign policy. The administration's inaction on energy has driven up the price of gasoline while ensuring even higher prices in the future. A few weeks ago, the administration killed the Keystone pipeline project. That project would create tens of thousands of jobs and reduce our dependency on unstable Arabian oil by 40 percent. We need the Keystone pipeline to ensure a stable energy supply.

For some reason, the environmentalists attacked the Keystone pipeline as an environmental nightmare. Based on historical spill information, in the next decade, we can expect a small spill of several hundred barrels of oil from this pipeline. Yet the environmentalists are not concerned by the impact of a catastrophe should an oil-carrying supertanker sink or spill its cargo. These tankers carry an average of 2 million barrels of oil each. The largest, the Jahre Viking, carries 4 million barrels of oil in a single crossing. The ecological damage caused by one of the ships sinking in our coastal waters would make the Exxon Valdez appeared to be a drop in the bucket or should I say barrel. Between 1970 and 2011, 5.7 million tonnes of oil were spilled from tankers and more may have gone unreported. ( There are slightly more than 7 barrels to a metric tonne of oil. That means that roughly 40,000,000 barrels of oil have been spilt from tankers. This averages a million barrels of oil a year spewn into the environment. Our President and the environmentalists should be rooting for more pipelines if they truly want to save the planet from oil spills.

The administration placed a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. After public outcry, the moratorium is coming to an end. But don't expect new drilling anytime soon. The approval process can be compared to a rabbit running through a tar field. Oil companies can produce the documentation required to apply for the drilling leases, but our lethargic government has taken steps to slow the approval process to a snails pace.

Drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) has also been stymied. This is an ideal place to drill, as pipelines already exist to carry the oil into markets in the South or to tankers that can bring the oil to the West Coast of the United States and other destinations. A failure to approve the ANWR permits coupled with the restrictions on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and on our eastern and western seaboards has ensured that we will be dependent on Arab oil for decades to come. If the administration removed the roadblocks to developing our own petroleum fields, we could be energy self-sufficient in a decade or even sooner.

By refusing to grant the permits we need to bring our known reserves into production, the President has placed us in a perilous position. The recent spike in the price of oil and the resulting increase in the price of gasoline are based on the threat of a disruption in Middle Eastern oil supply. Should the Gulf of Hormuz actually be blocked by Iran or by military options against Iran, Middle Eastern oil shipments will cease. This will create an immediate and severe shortage of petroleum products. What oil is left will sell at a very high premium. It is possible that we could see $7 a gallon gasoline should this occur. Our economy would collapse into a deep depression that would harm every American and bring hardship to all. To prevent this it is necessary to step up production of our own oil and deliver it to our markets using safe and efficient pipelines.

I remember the hardships that the last Arab oil embargo placed upon us. It destroyed our economy and put millions of Americans out of work. We cannot let this happen again. In the President's speech this week, he emphasized the need to develop clean energy. He believes that electric cars are a good alternative to the gasoline cars that we have been driving for over a century. Gasoline-powered cars are actually much more fuel-efficient than they were a decade ago. The so-called clean energy is not really clean at all. The batteries in electric cars will need to be charged from the electrical grid. We will need to install charging points in our house and wait 6 to 8 hours while the batteries are recharged. The power grid could not support a million new electric cars without adding additional coal burning electric generation plants.

Further complicating the issue of electric cars is the disposal of the batteries when the cars are scrapped. I reviewed the recycling process for lithium ion batteries. Currently, there is only a couple of lithium ion recycling plants in the United States. Even if several more are built, the batteries will need to be transported to the recycling center using diesel-powered trucks. The electrolytes in the batteries will need to be burned off which will add pollutants to the atmosphere. The metallic components will have to be smelted in a furnace so they can be reused. This process uses a significant amount of energy and may release pollutants into the atmosphere. The metals recovered will need to be refined and purified, again using a significant amount of energy.

Now for the item that surprised me: non-recoverable waste metals including lithium and aluminum will need to be buried in a landfill. (For more information, see Clearly lithium ion batteries are not the solution to gasoline. The President and the environmentalists are wrong when they state that electric cars are nonpolluting. Lithium Ion technology is not that panacea that will power our vehicles. It is just another pollutant that has long-term and mostly unknown effects on the environment.

While I used energy as my primary example in this article, let us not forget the economic boondoggle that we are facing. The President and his cronies are spending us into bankruptcy. Our deficit spending is growing faster than future generations can pay it off. While the unemployment numbers appear to be favorable on the surface, it is because several million people have dropped out of the workforce. In January alone, 1.2 million people stopped looking for work. Our economy cannot be sustained when over a million people a month are added to the dole. Job creation is the only solution, but the administration hinders private sector expansion at every turn. When companies such as Boeing want to hire thousands of new workers in North Carolina, the National Labor Relations Board prevented it. The administration is placing roadblocks in front of companies that want to hire new staff. The result: it is now easier to move a factory overseas than it is to open it in the United States.

This administration's foreign policy is in a shambles. The administration is proud of assassinating an American citizen without charges being placed or a trial. He deserved a trial prior to being executed. The illegal attack on Libya without congressional approval severely damaged our relations with other countries.

In my opinion, the facts presented in this article lead to a single conclusion. The President and his administration are actively working to change America as we know it. They are driving our country to ruin, economic hardship and foreign dependency. We must ensure that the representatives we elect in November will stop this madness and return our country to prosperity.

© 2012 Gordon Smith - All Rights Reserved

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