Expect Calls for More Drilling, Until Somebody Tells the Truth About Gas Prices

By · March 17, 2011


Sarah Palin took to Facebook Tuesday to hammer President Obama on recently rising gas prices. In a post titled “The $4-Per-Gallon President,” the former governor revisited some tried and true “drill baby, drill” talking points before getting to this one:

“Through a process of what candidate Obama once called 'gradual adjustment,' American consumers have seen prices at the pump rise 67 percent since he took office. Let’s not forget that in September 2008, candidate Obama’s Energy Secretary in-waiting said: 'Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.' That’s one campaign promise they’re working hard to fulfill!”

It's a charge that Palin isn't the first politician to use against Obama. Let's unpack it a bit:

  • Palin accuses Obama of rooting for a gradual increase in oil prices rather than the sharp shocks we saw in 2008 and are again seeing this year. Presumably, this means the former governor either prefers the chaos and economic instability that accompany major oil spikes, or that she simply believes gas prices will continue to stay flat for all of eternity.
  • Palin then moves on to criticize Energy secretary Steven Chu, who before reversing himself to ease his confirmation process in the Senate, supported a steady increase in gasoline taxes to “coax consumers into buying more-efficient cars and living in neighborhoods closer to work.”

Within the green transportation community there's little argument over whether the longterm interests of the United States and world would be better served by having slightly-to-significantly more expensive gas. Hybrid and electric car owners aren't the only ones who understand this though. Secretary Chu seems to as well, and President Obama himself is almost certainly at least aware of the arguments supporting such a policy (even if it's one he wouldn't touch with a 10-foot poll.)

But in continuing to coddle the public by attributing “high” gasoline prices to temporary factors like political unrest in North Africa, the President is setting himself up to be hit again and again by the “drill baby, drill” crowd.

Not since Jimmy Carter famously spooked an already terrified country by telling it it needed to learn to get by with less energy has an American president told us the truth about the necessity of radically improving the fuel economy of our vehicles. Until that happens, the myth that we can somehow drill ourselves out of a looming energy crisis will continue to perpetuate, and the urgency of reducing oil dependency will continue to take a backseat to the urgency of reducing pump prices back to levels where late night talk show hosts won't joke about them anymore.

Most Americans remain somewhat oblivious to how much gas actually costs in other parts of the world. The nearly $10-per-gallon price that Palin quotes in her Facebook post shouldn't be posited as a warning sign to the dangers of European socialism, but rather as a reminder of how much gas might actually cost here soon.

In fact, if not for the litany of expensive subsidies, tax loopholes and dubious foreign policy dealings that by most accounts have actually kept fuel costs in the United States artificially low, we might not be too far off from $10 gas right now. The National Defense Council Foundation and several other groups have published estimates that put the “true” cost of the fuel several dollars higher than the $3.50 we pay on average today.

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In the President's defense, he did recently seek to end many of the tax breaks targeted toward oil and natural gas production in the 2012 budget. But that measure is likely to fail—in part because politicians still feel more pressure to keep their constituents' transportation expenses temporarily low than to protect them from having to absorb thousands of dollars in new out-of-pocket costs down the road, once gas prices jump to $5 per gallon and beyond.

At some point, President Obama or one of his successors will have to stand up and offer the American people a clear choice: start paying for your oil at the pump while preparing to permanently replace it as the country's dominant transportation fuel, or continue to pay for it at the end of the year in the form of tax dollars sent to oil companies and weapons systems purchased for foreign dictators—while receiving no protection from the inevitable upswing in oil prices that will someday make $3.50 gasoline seem like a quaint reminder of simpler times.

Meanwhile, figures like Sarah Palin will continue to capitalize off of high oil prices during election years, as a confused public wonders why their President isn't doing more to keep pump costs down.

Is “drill baby, drill” easier to digest than reality? You betcha. But that doesn't mean politicians who otherwise support plug-in cars, green energy and higher fuel economy standards should allow Sarah Palin's great Alaskan pipe dream to frame the energy debate.


· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

Ideally we should do drilling as well, since Oil prices will continue to increase because of China's demand. But on the other hand, we should also increase the renewables as the cost of wind and solar continues to fall. Eventually Renewables will be cheaper than fossil fuels and there will be a massive switch to renewables.

· robert (not verified) · 7 years ago

i'm sorry but i really dont think the government should be planning to artificially gouge prices to force people into their ideologies this isn't a socialist welfare state like the uk! though its starting to seem that way. and yes, drill baby drill! i dont like relying on foreign oil anymore than anyone else. there isn't some magical technology thats gonna replace oil just yet. electric cars are not the answer. theres just as much inefficiencies and 'carbon footprint' by running off the grid consisting of probably 40% coal nationwide as there is running a gasoline engine. never mind the energy it takes to manufacture the batteries, and still cant go more than 100 miles on a charge. i've worked more than 50 miles away from my home many times, so your idea of forcing everyone to drive electric cars isnt gonna work. i'd love to see advances in hydrogen technology, but sheik obama would rather subsidize other "sustainable" forms of energy that aren't economically UNsustainable! i've got an idea for reducing your carbon footprint: stop breathing and dont have kids. that helps in two ways, less pollution and less "progressives" being brought up in the world.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

Energy has to come from somewhere even for electric cars (nuke plants?). US drilling would NOT affect the price of oil because it's not based on supply/demand - price is set by speculators. Unless speculation is stopped (I'd like to see this) and the US outproduces OPEC, the only result from US drilling is jobs here - oil was $140/barrel from AK and TX when it was $140/barrel elsewhere. Anyone (like Palin) who thinks US oil will be sold to US interests at less than the world price is stupid.

The big question is why does AK need so much federal subsidy when they have their own oil income. Cut off AK's handouts, and cut back my taxes so I can offset the increased cost of gas.

· robert (not verified) · 7 years ago

oh btw speaking of renewables ever heard of hydropower? it works great out here in oregon but the libs out here in portland believe that somehow its not renewable...like the water is gonna disappear somehow. also wind and solar are NOT sustainable economically, and thats all that matters in a country that has multi trillion dollar debts. its sad that we subsidize these things to make the environmentalists feel good but we CANT AFFORD TO PAY FOR SCHOOLS and other public services. but thats a whole other argument, as you can also partially shore these things up by enforcing our immigration laws and sending our 12 million or so undocumented illegals back.

· TD (not verified) · 7 years ago

But this is a socialist welfare state when it comes to energy. If we did not massively subsidize oil directly through tax cuts and leases on public land, and indirectly through military expenditures and the costs of pollution to our health, gas would be as expensive as it is in Europe and Japan.

The same is true for nuclear energy. The taxpayers paid for ALL of the research to develop nuclear energy. Taxpayers continue to heavily subsidize the operational costs of nuclear energy, and taxpayers pay for handling and storage of nuclear waste, which must be monitored and stored safely for thousands of years. If the nuclear energy industry was forced to bear these costs alone, particularly the maintenance of hazardous waste, and pass them on to customers, it would never be competitive with any other form of energy.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

Sarah Palin lives in the last century. She isn't innovative or forward thinking at all. She just panders to the cavemen in us.

· Ernie (not verified) · 7 years ago

Good god, so this president is a Socialist... except when he's not.

Real Socialists actively interfere with the market prices of goods and commodities, usually by ACTUALLY SETTING THEIR PRICES, oftentimes through state-owned companies. And usually by setting them to be artificially low, and expecting tax revenues to make up the difference.

So when the price of a commodity rises naturally due to the market, what happens? The *Republicans* demand that the government do something about it? What? What kind of crazy opposite world is this? And what do they expect the government to *do* about this problem? Force oil companies to set their oil prices lower? Send the oil companies more money to subsidize gasoline? *That* is Socialism.

What the hell happened to The Invisible Hand of the free market? I guess that doesn't apply to the God Given Right to Cheap Gas.

· · 7 years ago

@robert - You're in luck, artificially raising prices to control markets has absolutely nothing to so with "socialism" or "welfare states" - it's actually a core concept in pure, unadulterated capitalism. Why is it that when you think the government is going to do something any large private corporation would do given the chance, it's "socialism" ? It's almost like you don't know what that word means...

Of course, ending subsidies for the petroleum industry is not exactly the same as price gouging, is it? If anything, giving petroleum companies YOUR tax dollars is closer to socialism than anything Obama has been criticized for! You should be in favor of ending it, right? Heaven forbid you should pay the actual price for your gasoline instead of having Uncle Sam chip in too. (Doubly ironic since gasoline is federally taxed as well - subsidize on end, tax the other!)

Re hydro power: FRESH water has a possibility to run out. Drinkable water is a limited resource and there are signs that we, collectively, are using it faster than it is being replenished.

· · 7 years ago


Thank you for representing the DBD perspective in our comments thread. You hate the idea of using foreign oil but would prefer to do nothing about it for the time being(?) -- and apparently you think that President Obama is intent on "gouging" oil prices. Perfect.

Putting politics and party affiliations aside, let me ask a few honest questions in an effort to understand your perspective:

a) Do you think that there is enough oil -- including everything located in federally protected sites -- to keep oil prices in check if say, Saudi Arabia and Iran were to go to war? How about if Venezuela cut us off?

b) How much do you think gas will cost 10 years from now (assuming no major geopolitical disruptions to production.)

c) Do you think that the federal government should regulate fuel economy?

If you or someone who agrees with you would care to answer these questions I'd be curious to read your responses.

· · 7 years ago

Sarah Palin must be suffering from that "convenient memory loss" again. Bush was the original $4.00 a gallon president. In fact, it was Bush who started the collapse of the American economy and drove the price of everything out of the reach of the common worker. Obama seems to be too busy catering to the Republicans to keep them happy with their warped sense of a fair economy to work to lower the gas prices. The Republicans will spend $50 billion dollars to build one nuclear power plant but won't spend $5 million dollars to provide affordable health care for Americans. Just as Regan killed the solar bill in the 70s and directed the money to nuclear reactors, Bush killed the clean energy bill in the 2000s and directed the money to fossil fuel. The current Republicans want to kill the electric vehicle bill and direct all the money to hybrid fossil fuel vehicles. Can you see the Republican's agenda to reverse America and plunge it back to the brink of a third-world economy that will be totally dependent of foreign fossil fuels? If you can't, then you must be a Republican.

· · 7 years ago

I want to further this blog comment by offering an Obama remedy... Cut all incentives to fossil fuel and stop Bush's two wars and direct all the money to the production and research of clean energy and electric vehicle production. Start mass producing electric vehicles and clean energy like: Geothermal (above and below ground), solar and mega storage batteries like: liquid metal, liquid salt, sulfur and molten salt, Hydro - both river and ocean wave. If we do this, we can be away from all fossil fuel production in less than ten years.

Instead of allowing the Republicans send us back in time to a world of expensive fossil fuel, we can quickly forge our way to the future away from the use of fossil fuel. It is time we left the fossil age behind and forged into a new and brighter clean energy age.

· Frank Phillips (not verified) · 7 years ago

Well said, however I think Palin's true motivations have less to do with a perceived crisis and more scoring cheap political points (eg. posturing.) But that's something our nation's favorite hockey mom would never stoop to, right?

Beyond her ridiculousness: "Not since Jimmy Carter famously spooked an already terrified country by telling it it needed to learn to get by with less energy has an American president told us the truth about the necessity of radically improving the fuel economy of our vehicles."

If I remember correctly, Jimmy's message of tightening the belt was actually surprisingly well received. It's too bad he was the last American president with the gumption to tell the American people to conserve... well... pretty much anything.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

As far as we know, republicans and conservatives and congressional democrats have no problem shipping their hard-earned tax dollars straight into the coffers of the defense and oil industries. The hard question we should be asking ourselves is, how many venezuelan lives are worth one barrel of $100 oil?

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

I hate to tell the the guy who wrote this article, but Obama said in an interview with John Harwood that the only problem he had with the oil spike was that it happened too fast. This problem is not going away for Obama and it might just make him a one termer. You can't be president and continue to hold that job if you have absolutely no realistic energy policy. I will pay $4 a gallon for gas if it helps this country get rid of Jimmy Carter , I mean Obama.

· · 7 years ago

How much did you folks say gasoline costs today? $4.00 per gallon. Wow, it was less than $3.00 when I used to be dependent on it. That's ridiculous, who would ever let someone get so much control over them to jack up the price of something they need that badly.
I'm sure glad I don't need that stuff and can do my 80 mile daily commute using the sunshine that hits the roof of the house that I own. Good thing times have changed and we can buy the Volt and the Leaf today!

· · 7 years ago

@Annonymous commenter who mentioned the John Harwood interview:

That's exactly my point. Obama and his predecessors have all known how serious this problem is -- whether you look at it from the perspective of future rising demand, falling supply, or the strategic disadvantage of allowing your entire economy to be held hostage to the whims of foreign dictators (leaving aside any environmental arguments, of course.)

Regardless of whether or not you think he's the right guy to fix this mess, by continuing to pretend that oil prices are a) controllable, b) "too high", and c) respondent to more domestic drilling, Obama is making things more difficult for himself. If he doesn't want to lose in 2012 because of high gas prices, maybe he should start trying to break people of the illusion that American presidents have any real control over the longterm trajectory of oil market.

· robert (not verified) · 7 years ago

zach first of all i claim no "republican" or democrat affiliation as both parties are corrupt and cater only to their own agenda and whoever puts the most money in their pot. anyway, your article clearly states that gouging is obamas intention and it seems as though your in favor of it. i dont like relying on foreign oil any more than anyone else, but i dont think plug ins are the long term answer. hydrogen? maybe, but that faces the same obstacle as any other undeveloped technology: high cost. if your running a solar panel on your house to power your volt, good for you! but i'm sure you got subsidized for that, and thats great. for those that may argue about the higher cost of petrol in europe, understand that 70% of that $8+ per gallon is taxes. anyway on to your questions
a) NO! i'm not living in some fantasy land. we can drill drill drill and i'm not sure how much of a supply will be present. i know whats in the reserve right now isn't going to make an impact, and its already been tried before a few years back. i heard word that obama might do it again...of coarse the answer is to develop a technology that relieves us of this, but the challenge is making it sustainable. no not "sustainable", but economically sustainable. granted, i dont think any energy industry has blossomed without some type of subsidy. on the other hand oil tax breaks are inappropriate when they bring in record profits.
b) thats not even a valid question. of coarse the "geopolitical" environment will continue to deteriorate. anyone who believes that a group of people that thinks your an infidel and should either convert to their religion or die is ever going to be peaceful is drinking the wrong color of koolaid. i would love to say in a perfect world, in the time before they figured they could use hurricanes and middle east tension as an excuse to speculate prices, gas should cost $1.70. ha! but thats a fairytale that'll never happen again.
c) i think the MARKET should regulate standards. you know: the consumer? if enough people want enough of something, it should be done. of coarse that doesn't always happen. more likely whatever the politicians agenda happens to be. but if people want to drive smaller cars, then more will get built. if people want real trucks, then trucks will get built. i thought this was a free country. if you want to waste your money driving a lifted 4x4 ford excursion, thats your Choice. i'm not a fan of "encouraging" hybrid and plugin sales with tax breaks. i would personally get a honda crx hf if i really wanted 50mpg. i'd save alot of money, not have a car payment, and my mileage would be similar to a $30000 prius. i'd have no expensive batteries to worry about, and if i was an environmentalist liberal, i'd feel good that i not only am reusing/recycling an older car, but saving the energy taken to produce another new car. on second thought i'll take a motorcycle its more fun, and 50mpg!
anything else? arguing with libs is fun. doesn't matter who thinks who is right, no hard feelings! i don't get my panties bunched up if someone doesn't agree with me like alot of people do.

· Samie (not verified) · 7 years ago

robert, or proper noun Robert, Who said everyone is liberal? I agree, lets let markets dictate petroleum prices. Remove any "oil securities" like tax breaks or defense spending away from U.S. oil & watch prices go up. Markets "correct" themselves through cycles, this is how its regulated. Oh you mentioned speculation, that is investors (ie 401ks & pension plans) driving the market price of petro up until economic conditions slows down prices, reducing "bandwagon effects". Look up the meaning of elasticity & ask if government should use taxpayer money to diverse our energy needs. Also look at what types of vehicles have the best profit margins & what interest would carmakers have in low profit vehicles if left to their own demise.

· · 7 years ago

I'm not a member of a political party either, and I'm not trying to provoke an argument, I'm just curious about why you feel the way that you do.

I will respond to one point that you raised though, which is that the market and only the market should decide what kinds of cars we drive when it comes to fuel efficiency (I assume you don't think this should also apply vehicle safety standards?)

As you said earlier in your response, the government isn't neutral in all of this – it's working actively to support the oil industry's stranglehold on being the exclusive energy provider for vehicle transportation in the United States. Whether it's invading Iraq to protect Kuwaiti oil, filling the SPR to help avert market panics, directly subsidizing oil and gas exploration, or any number of other expensive and 'economically unsustainable' things the government does to help the oil industry, a great number of our tax dollars go toward putting oil at an unfair market advantage over other fuels (far more than go to hybrid and electric vehicles, for sure.)

Furthermore, the free market isn't necessarily very good at preparing for catastrophes. If not for subsidies, research grants, and fuel economy standards either in the United States or abroad, very few of the fuel-efficient cars that are available to consumers today would actually exist.

It takes a long time to develop major new vehicle technologies, and often even longer to make them profitable. In the event of the serious oil spike that would be required to motivate a market-driven switch to another kind of fuel, do you really want to be waiting around for 5-10 years, losing trillions in GDP while the industry figures out how to build an economically sustainable gas car?

In my opinion there's simply no such thing. You probably disagree with that, but my point is that these the kind of discussions we should be having – not whether to open up new oil fields or release the SPR.

· Matt Chatham (not verified) · 7 years ago

Electric cars may not be the "answer," right now, but while burning coal for electricity is still a problem there are means of getting electricity that aren't bad for the environment and are sustainable - solar and wind. If gas prices were high enough, more people would be looking to buy hybrid and electric cars. And the bigger the electric car market is, the more competition there would be to make better batteries that hold charges longer and charge faster. Complaining about the state of electrics now is kind of silly since there aren't very many of them and they're considered the ultimate niche market. But if it was the main choice of consumers (and in a short time I think it will be) then I think in a few years you'd see a lot of improvements in electrics.

· · 7 years ago

oh my apologies to samie, er Samie (Proper Noun) for not using the appropriate capitalization where necessary. so Zack (ooh see the proper noun?) to an extent i dont agree with our stringent safety standards. i would rather see more stringent requirements to get a license, a la germany, where you have to enroll in a driving school, become qualified in first aid, then take the written and driving test. all of these safety "features" are ever more increasing the weight of new cars, further reducing fuel economy. with all of the advancements in engine technology a new civic doesnt greatly exceed one thats 20 years old. why? 400-500 lbs of extra weight from features and safety equipment. there are standard gas and diesel cars available in europe that are capable of twice the fuel economy of most in the US.

how is an internal combustion engine not economically sustainable? lets ignore the fact that oil isn't technically renewable for a second. government motors didnt need a bailout because cars are unsustainable, they needed it because their product is inferior to the foreign automakers and because their management cared more about gmac than making great cars. Samie those big trucks with high profit margins still wouldnt be profitable without people buying them, right?

· Anonymous(Hayes) (not verified) · 7 years ago

Zach, Obama doesn't get to change the rules once he becomes president. He gets the blame for gas prices, which he should. His policies do nothing to address our dependence on foreign oil. How about using natural gas in cars, which we have a ton of in this country. We need to be going after speculators, pushing for more hybrids and fuel efficient cars, and increasing our domestic production and attack the problem from all sides. I have no faith that this president will do any of those things, and for that a lot of the blame should put right at the feet of Obama.

· · 7 years ago

Wow. I sure didn't expect the discussion to head down the path it is. Amazing. Must have something to do with the partisan aspect.

Funny to think that we can't have a real president without him having a sound energy policy. This country has NEVER had a sound energy policy. At first we didn't really need one, then at about Nixon's time we did... and he tried, and others gave voice to it right down the line and still... and we've never had a relevant energy policy in this country. And we so desperately need one. And it does not and CAN not be based on keeping the price at the pump as low as possible.

The subsidies that I've taken advantage of for my EV and my solar helps every living thing in some small way. The subsidies we give to the oil industry... not so much. To complain that my green energy and transportation were not free-market driven, while at the same time demanding lower gas prices that are already artificially low due to oil subsidies is hard for me to grasp. And discounting European gas prices because so much of it is tax?! Well, that tax is to offset the cost of using oil. It is just returning the external costs of usage to the pump price. Without the tax, the price at the pump is NOT the cost of using gasoline.

We can no longer afford to ignore the external costs of gasoline consumption.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

Why does everybody act like we don't have decades and maybe centuries worth of natural gas that is already being used in Oklahoma, Utah, and in bus fleets all around the country? Obama could have used some of his pathetic stimulus and pushed for much more natural gas vehicles. Natural gas is the most realistic option that we should go after, but we should definitely drill for more oil at the same time.

· Ben Brown (not verified) · 7 years ago

Fact: continental oil production was far more than we needed and we were selling it away in the 50's and 60's. Local (continental) wells began producing LESS and some were no longer economical to pump by the 70's. Today, we have to continually find reserves farther and farther afield. We are doing almost anything to get at it, whether killing ocean bioregions or other life. We are using progressively more and costlier technologies to find fossil fuel sources. Wretched fact: we are giving vast amount of money to oil companies to find oil which they then charge us increasing prices {over the decade} while making increasing profits.

My impression: Oh yes, our society is so absolutely dependent on oil/coal it could fall into complete chaos/disappear in weeks without our spending billions of dollars to support the present system. Our [fossil fuel] "dealers" are getting rich controlling our lives and our society looks as brittle as an end stage dope addict raging against even the suggestion we should seriously change starting with our next breath. I'll change tomorrow or when its easier is something I've heard in addiction counseling. It sounds about as sensible as Charlie Sheen or Lindsay Lohan saying its everybody else's fault and they know their lives would be absolutely perfect if it wasn't for "X".

Me, the fellow/former addict. I plan to buy wind, put up more solar, not buy the wide screen tv and other toys, but purchase an ev and some other renewables. I average less than $10.00 an hour, but pray hard to multiply its effectiveness. So far so good, but who knows tomorrow... Excuses are human, just not good for survival if all they are deflecting attention from one's own lifestyle.

So far we've saved about 20-30% on our utility bills and spent money locally in the past year to do so. How free can I become and improve the quality of my life? I don't know, but I'm willing to learn how the impossible can be made possible.

There is no drilling our way to independence or even survival. At best it prolongs an addiction and walk on the edge of a razor. It sure sounds good to know I don't really need to change today, unless its a lie to satisfy me, benefit the ones agreeing with me. Perhaps I should ask Charlie and Lindsay, I'm sure they know the truth.

· · 7 years ago

"Me, the fellow/former addict. I plan to buy wind, put up more solar, not buy the wide screen tv and other toys, but purchase an ev and some other renewables."

Me, the current addict, plan on swapping the engine in my mx-3 gs for a more powerful one and by a bigger tv when i can afford it because 32" isn't big enough!

on the other hand, i put plastic vapor barrier over the drafty windows of my apartment so my electric bill would be half of the $300 it was last dec 2009 hehehe

· Samie (not verified) · 7 years ago

robert supply & demand, exactly my point.

Is the shift button on your keyboard stuck? i, I. I or i thought my punctuation, grammar, & long rants where bad....

Keep your own opinions but please don't get amped up watching 24hr cable news on your 32" oh new 56" HDTV.

Keywords: socialism, government motors, & liberals, (no old school Al Gore or greenie weenie references). :)

· sean t (not verified) · 7 years ago

Bush once said that Americans are addicted to oil. Sadly, sometimes he's correct.

· · 7 years ago

OK Samie if I really wanted to capitalize properly I would. But I really don't feel like it. is that ok with you samie? i don't watch much news on tv i mostly listen to talk radio to hear things that the mainstream media is afraid to talk about. chris be careful what you here from national progressive radio haha

· · 7 years ago

Oil is subsidized in so many ways, that the true cost is far higher than even the Europeans are paying. Oil is finite, and therefore it will get more and more expensive over time.

Electricity is virtually infinite. Do you think we should use more of it instead of oil?

Nuclear power is a very dangerous way to boil water, to make steam, to spin turbines, to make electricity. It would certainly seem like three major disasters (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima) would say that we need to learn that... lesson. Nuclear plants have to shut down pretty often for refueling and maintenance.

Coal is also nasty to mine, and causes all sorts of pollution, and it is finite. Coal plants have to shut down for cleaning and maintenance.

Gas is getting harder to extract and causes all sorts of pollution when fracking. I've heard that we have enough reserves for 60-70 years -- whoopee!


Let's try and think of ways to make electricity that are not inherently catastrophically dangerous, or polluting -- and will last as long as the Eaarth?

Wave power. There are at least two types of machines that can do this.

Tidal power. Also fuel-free and very dependable and constant.

Wind power. With a large array spread out over a large enough area, they produce 33-45% of their total capacity all the time. No down time for refueling like nuclear plants. No mining of uranium, or refining or enrichment time and energy. (Nuclear is hardly carbon free!)


Solar power. Works in the daytime, when we use the most power. Solar PV does use materials that can be problematic. Solar heat though is more efficient and uses less exotic materials

Biofuels like methane digesters. These can blow up, but at least it's not radioactive.

We can use storage methods like elevated reservoir hydro, or underground compressed air, or underground molten salt for solar heat plants.

Renewable energy are *far* more dependable than any finite energy. They are all around us, and that kind of diversity is a very good thing; as no one can dominate it. They are very low pollution and cannot be spilled, collapse, be radioactive -- and they will not run out.


· Eric (not verified) · 7 years ago

A friend's father was comptroller of Getty Oil back in the early 70s. My great uncle was a vice president at the company.

One day, J. Paul Getty walked into the comptroller's office and said, "J. W., we're going to force Americans to drive smaller front-wheel drive cars, because they're more efficient, by creating an artificial oil crisis."

And that's exactly what they did. Remember the lines for those of you alive back then?

Palin is being disingenuous to blame the president for high gas prices. The oil companies do what the want, and pretend they are the victims of government mismanagement. It's bunk, and Palin knows it. Just like that pipeline deal with Canada was not a good deal for Americans, but she didn't care.

· Van (not verified) · 7 years ago

It is disappointing to see the tactic of putting words in Palin's mouth, rather than addressing the idea. If the President wants prices to gradually rise, then he might not be doing all he could do to keep prices as low as possible. This would minimize economic disruption (think slowdown and job loss) while buying time for the second generation PHEV batteries to be developed and produced in large numbers. As we are seeing, a mere 2% oil production loss triggers gas price spikes upwards of 10%. Consider if America's gasoline consumption dropped by say 5%, would that no spur economic recover via lower gas prices. And how many PHEVs, BEV, and high mileage Hybrids would it take to bring that about? Drill baby drill only buys time and minimizes suffering during the next decade, but shifting to electric transportation powered domestically offers the most green future.

· · 7 years ago

NEWS FLASH! The Republicrats are all golfing together at the end of the day. It's all about throwing down the bare minimum in "public service" and then it's time to "pursue other interests" or "spend more time with my family" which is code for revolving door book deals speaking engagements boardships lobbying your old buddies and going on dancing with the stars. Then there are the ones that don't go away and camp out in "public service" for a lifetime, equally destructive in some cases. These people are mostly self serving megalomaniacs and talking heads that read prepared speeches. Whether it's media whore Palin, spray tan crybaby Boehner, "cleanface" Reid or Madame Pelosi none of them have your bests interests in mind. Help grow the third party of your choice or pick among the slime in the "two" parties. Whew, that was my political rant, and of course, just my opinion.
Modern nuke, hydro, coal and natural gas are all part of a diversified energy basket. Maybe someone can confirm this for me, I believe that the amount of oil used in America for transportation about exactly equates the amount of oil that America imports from foreign sources. Grid power is largely domestic power as very, very little grid power comes from oil. I suppose you could split hairs and talk about the heavy equipment burning diesel to mine coal or uranium but....

· Travisty (not verified) · 7 years ago

To those who believe Nuclear is 'dangerous' needs to do some reading. Even after all of the nuclear 'disasters', it's one of the safest power sources currently available - quite honestly the only source of power to hold us over until fission comes to fruition (2040-2050).

This is the only nuclear power plant disaster. Chernobyl was a Gen I nuclear power plant that was based off a principle of keeping the nuclear reaction in a chaotic state. Only in the USSR could this ever be acceptable and with what happened this is why we had so much regulation with nuclear power, to prevent terrible designs like this from being made.

Three Mile Island
This was no disaster. Anyone who says otherwise is completely ignorant of the issue. The people living in the immediate area were at a lower radiation level than they were when nuclear weapons tests were taking place in the atmosphere.

Japanese Nuclear Power Plants
Since it’s still happening there’s no medical records but to this point, even those in within the 20 mile evacuation zone will not suffer from radiation poisoning and this will be a short enough radiation exposure that cancer risk is very low. Thyroid cancer being the main concern, but with a 92% survival rate even at 30 years after first being diagnosed, it is very treatable.

Both Three Mile Island and the Japanese power plants that are having problems are Gen II nuclear power plants. Gen III and Gen III+ (current generation) are exponentially safer and exponentially more efficient in fuel use and decreased waste production.

-More people died from the dam in Japan's northeast Fukushima prefecture breaking than will die from the nuclear situation currently going on.
-More people have died since Chernobyl from coal power pollution than died from nuclear exposure / cancer. Estimating ~250,000 dead from Chernobyl / 25 = 10,000. ~13,000 die from coal pollution a year.
With Gen III+ and Gen IV nuclear power there is no air pollution (not even steam). Nuclear is an incredible power source and the only source of power we should invest in on a Federal level – along with research into fission.

· Travisty (not verified) · 7 years ago

I'll also add, there's enough nuclear fuel to last us a few hundred million years - basically an infinite resource.

· · 7 years ago

Very well said. The plants experiencing problems in Japan right now were ancient, and in one case a month away from retirement and suffered a perfect storm of events. A 9.0 quake and a 40 foot tsunami. That doesn't excuse the Japanese from failing to account for these possibilities but then we have a few plants like that ourselves, one directly on a fault line. The Japanese are a hard working intelligent and classy people. I hope they don't let this change the view they (the average citizen) have of modern nuke, they don't have many options for energy independence.

· JP (not verified) · 7 years ago

Obama is all for using taxpayer dollars to fund offshore drilling. Well as long as it is not going to US companies and on the US shores. Read the Wall Street Journal link below. It also just so happens that Obama’s mentor/boss “George Soros” made millions because Soros had invested heavily in the Brazilian state oil company (Petrobras).


· · 7 years ago

Well . . . I guess you can always count of getting a plethora of posts when you put up a photo of "The Queen of Wasilla" at her most garish! The Darth Vader collar on that black dress is to die for.

Not much to add to this debate that already hasn't been said other than to say that thermal solar could do much to alleviate harsher polluting energy sources in certain parts of the world . . . such as the sunny southwest, where I live. Augment this with grid-tied solar PVs on million of rooftops and your are well on the way to solving the problem.

Likewise, assemble a real network of wind turbines along long stretches
of the off-shore coastal areas and actually tie a couple thousand miles
of these together in a "smart" grid. Hopefully, the Japanese will start doing this instead of re-investing in nuclear reactors along fault lines and within the wash zone of Tsunamis.

Of course, none of this makes money for oil companies or the talk radio neo-con shills who love them. But I digress . . .

· · 7 years ago

I think you have Obama confused with Bush there "JP". Did you forget that Bush cut all funding for clean energy, like this demigod Regan did with solar, and direct it all to oil in the Gulf and Sodomy Arabia?

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

Yeah, we should definitely drill more. That was sarcasm.

That being said, drilling doesn't solve the problem of our addiction to oil. We need to move beyond that. I guess Palin really has a short timer memory because when gas was above $4 a gallon her pal George W. Bush was in office and the economy was tumbling down.

Please tell me there's a god and she doesn't run in 2012. I can't stand to see her idiocy in the national limelight anymore.

· Lad (not verified) · 7 years ago

WoW! At last people are not hiding their heads in the sand and are discussing the energy problem; the results are encouraging with the exception, as expected, the weaker arguments are full of name-calling and type-casting. I think from the comments, we now see the complications brought about by a hundred years of fossil fuel dependency and the dangers that the policy of greed and lack of addressing the energy issue truthfully by our politicians has brought to our people.

· · 7 years ago

Yeah, we should definitely drill more. I mean that.

That being said, the benefit of doing so in my mind isn't so much to try and add supply that will effect any difference but to add high paying jobs. From marine architects and engineers that design rigs, offshore supply vessels and tugs to shipyard work, most of which is skilled labor that pays family wages, to oil field exploration and development and the people that will operate these oil fields make a fair amount of money as well. We're not talking $8 an hour Starbucks barista here, not that there isn't a place for that too. That epic "oil spill" in the gulf probably wont happen again any time soon and if it did? Well guess what, the sun came up today and the sky didn't fall either. If big box retailers and residences were all smathered in pv and the average commuter drove an ev we would likely use most of our oil for heavy equipment and other industrial uses. And we wouldn't be mulling another military action in another Middle Eastern country with oil recourses. But don't expect a Manhattan Project mindset on energy independence, we are too polarized and handcuffed by politics to act decisively on anything anymore. The barbarians are at the gate.

· sean t (not verified) · 7 years ago

I know many many people support nuke plants but always say: "not in my backyard". Are you one of those?

· Travisty (not verified) · 7 years ago

Nope. In fact they are planning to build one about 40 miles from my house (Pueblo, Colorado). I couldn't be more pleased.

Energy is needed and I'd much rather have clean air and safe surroundings than coal/large amounts of co2 from burning power plants.

· · 7 years ago

Nuke baby nuke!

· · 7 years ago

@Robert all of these safety "features" are ever more increasing the weight of new cars, further reducing fuel economy. with all of the advancements in engine technology a new civic doesnt greatly exceed one thats 20 years old. why? 400-500 lbs of extra weight from features and safety equipment.

You’re statement makes it sound as if safety features make up a large portion of weight addition to the different model years. This is a typical right wing trick for casting false blame. Most likely the new model car is longer and wider compared to the old one. This adds to the weight and drag coefficient which then drives the manufacturer to make a bigger engine to maintain performance numbers which adds much more weight than ABS vs standard brakes, airbags, and ESC.

· Hal Howell (not verified) · 7 years ago

I don't know what kind of "stupid" pill the author has taken but the simple fact is that my Prius doesn't run on sunshine or wind power!!! It runs on gasoline! The more fuel costs, the more food and everything else is going to get much higher. All this President has done is screw every American by his idiotic policies of stopping drilling and now there's actual talk of killing nuclear power. The truth is we can't have anything remotely resembling our current lifestyle with just wind or solar.
He also wants to kill the coal industry on the hoax science of "global warming."
Perhaps the author is looking forward to going back to horse and buggies! Has anyone on this blog realized that all electric cars will only work in warmer climates. This kills off the idea of using electric cars pretty much north of Dallas in the winter. If all those people who were caught in recent snow blizzards had been driving electric cars they would all be dead!
Gov. Palin is right on the money, we need to be drilling everywhere we can and using every type of energy so we can continue to grow our economy. What does the author's favorite President do, he actually does everything he can to kill the economy. I know what he says but his actions are speaking far louder.
You can't afford a Fuel cell car unless you are Bill Gates, the Volt is for far wealthier people than me and the Leaf is great as long as you only want to go 100 miles. For the rest of us we need gasoline or diesel even IF you are driving a hybrid. Right now in the year 2011, the only viable option is a hybrid which is becoming more affordable which means GASOLINE!
So, its time to face the facts and deal with the situation. You may not actually need a car in NY City BUT you do just about any other place in America. Truckers need cheaper fuel because without truckers, we all starve to death! So, for all the tree hugging libs out there its now time for you to re-enter the real world. We can't handle $10.00 a gallon gas. Farmers certainly couldn't handle it and neither can the truckers. Nor can anyone else if you ALSO want to EAT!

· · 7 years ago

Hal. You are a dream come true to a wifebeater shirt wearing horshoe mustache sporting bowling alley going small town cheap beer drinking Metallica listening monster truck fan. And btw, Dems are only slightly more disgusting to me than Repugs.

· · 7 years ago

@Hal Howell: Electric cars will only work in warmer climates? Somebody needs to break the bad news to Tom Moloughney. He's been driving an EV in New Jersey winters. There is some loss of range due to the cold, but nothing overly dramatic. http://www.plugincars.com/electric-car-owner-challenges-washington-post-...

The more people drive plug-in and hybrid cars, the more gasoline and diesel that leaves for those who may actually need it. Reducing demand for oil is one way to help keep a lid on prices.

I also agree that we need nuclear power (and solar, and wind, etc). I concur with the poster who said he'd much rather live near a nuclear plant than a coal plant. I'd much rather take my chances with rare nuclear disasters than have the certainty of breathing radioactive emissions from coal burning.

· The Anti-Hal (not verified) · 7 years ago

Good lord, Hal. Come up for air and smell the coffee. You may want to leave a tiny bit of room for reality in your rant.

If I follow your logic - we can't afford $10 gasoline (which is about what we're paying for it, though not at the pump) and we can't live without gasoline. So... the solution is to keep using it as if it were cheap... and keep making it appear cheap? Excellent strategy that will take us far.

· · 7 years ago

@spicoli: Don't be too hard on the guy, bro. The truth is often somewhere in the middle. I was a Metallica fan for a while myself, though bands like Stryper have lyrics that are more to my liking... I digress. The point is, just try to tell people the truth and don't sweat the disagreements.

· · 7 years ago

abasile, the voice of reason as always. thanks for keeping me from resorting to throws and chokes, armbars and other painful submissions.

· Randy (not verified) · 7 years ago

The simple fact is that fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource and as we use them the supply goes down and with demand going up the price will go up. This is simple economics. The U.S. only produces 25% of the oil we use and there is no way that drilling for more oil in the U.S. would significantly change that. Also, if we did produce more oil here, the price of oil would not go down because OPEC would simply produce less, which would keep the price the same.

· · 7 years ago

abasile: I'm sorry, I would help out in the Hal bashing but I'm no longer with the living. I died in the last blizzard from frostbite when my EV got stuck in the snow, ran out of juice and I froze...sad story really :(

· Skooter (not verified) · 7 years ago

Would it lend toward stabilizing prices if oil were removed from the futures market? Or if only those who could actually take delivery on oil were allowed to buy futures? Even if such a scheme might offer stability, what are the chances that lawmakers would enact such rules? Ultimately, the problem of growing demand for finite resources and the real long term costs for them need to be openly addressed. Leaders who are already well versed regarding the oil situation should announce what they know publicly and begin facilitating dialog amongst other leaders. Are political, business and educational leaders largely afraid of public backlash, or generating panic? Is it a question of waiting for others to show some initiative? Is it denial? Varying degrees of ignorance or lack of data? Perhaps it's a train wreck involving all of those factors and more. What do you think?

· · 7 years ago

Skooter, in my opinion the investment banks are sort of in control right now, with alot of key positions in government manned by them. When the foxes are the ones watching the henhouse it's hard to imagine any "change".

· Randy (not verified) · 7 years ago

When President Bush said "we are addicted to oil from unstable places in the world", I made it my job to break my addition to oil and I was not going to wait for the government to figure it out for me. I looked at all the alternatives, such as natural gas, hydrogen, and electric. Since I had learned my lesson with gasoline, I did not want to switch to another inflation driven fuel. I ended up coming up with a two step plan, which I have implemented. Step 1, install a solar power system on the roof of my house. Step 2, buy an electric car. The solar power system, on the roof of my house, now provides all the electricity I need for my home and car, which is saving me $160 a month on electric bills and $250 a month on gasoline or $5,000 a year.

· · 7 years ago

@Skooter, The usual explanation for futures is that they create additional liquidity in the markets. (They were originally developed for agricultural products to allow farmers and food product manufacturers to have more predictability in volatile commodity prices.) But speculators can use them to bid up prices to unrealistic levels, as we have seen. However, if oil futures in this country were restricted or eliminated, the futures trading would just move offshore to other exchanges. Restricting worldwide futures trading in oil is unrealistic.

If oil supplies are not significantly disrupted in the coming months, prices should come back down as speculators cover their exposed positions. If something were to happen to a major oil producer, prices could go much higher. There isn't a whole lot governments can do about it in the short term.

There is something we, as a society, could do about it in the long term: we could reduce oil use for transportation purposes by using more fuel efficient cars, more alternative fuel vehicles (such as CNG), and more EVs. The government could facilitate this change, but even such mild changes as higher mileage standards for cars and light trucks and tax credits for EVs are controversial and politically difficult to implement, for reasons that are all too familiar.

IMHO, the most effective and efficient way to make this change would be a stiff gas tax, implemented gradually to reduce economic disruption. But such a thing is impossible in our tax averse society. Is that the fault of our elected officials or of we who elect them? I think it is the latter.

· · 7 years ago

@Randy, My personal strategy has been the same. I put up solar panels for a future electric car several years ago and plan to double my system later this Spring, now that I know how much electricity an EV uses.

Meanwhile, I wait for EVs suitable for my needs to become available in my area. Perhaps next year I will be able to join you in driving an EV. My savings will be considerably less than yours because my electricity usage was only about $220 a year (before solar panels) and my gas savings will be about $800-$1000 a year. So it isn't remotely cost-effective. But people buy less useful toys, do they not?

· · 7 years ago

@Hal Howell "All this President has done is screw every American by his idiotic policies of stopping drilling.."

Hal, you are absolutely right. But for Obama, we would never have been importing oil from 70s. We would all be floating in oil and it would be 1 cent per barrel. We would have infinite oil (and an infinite planet, too). Apart from global warming, things like Peak Oil and Evolution are absolute hoaxes perpetrated by world wide conspiracy involving millions of people over a century.

· · 7 years ago

@dpcolorado, good explanation. Some of the damage from the CFMA of 2000 legislation was "fixed" a couple years ago, but I think a gaming environment still exists to the extent that overweight white men in stupid looking jackets can cause food riots and starvation for no tangible real reason, and do it all without any dirt under their fingernails. Ok, I know, I speak colorfully heh.

· Matthew Miller (not verified) · 7 years ago

I will be truthful, i have not read all the comments in whole, but one thing that i do believe is that both sides are right. We should lower our dependency on oil, eventually it will run out and if we are not ready (possible 100 years down the road, give or take) we will be stuck in a rut. But today, we can't afford $5 plus gallon prices, our ecconomy is down and if i can't afford to get to work i can't work. The screams and shouts from Palin are a little off. I lived in Texas and have seen the oil fields scattered through out that state, the shout shouldn't be "drill baby, drill" it should be closer to pump baby, pump. I say this because talking to some of the oil employees I found out that we do drill when we find the oil. The down side is we cap the hole and never use it's resources. This has been seen all the way back to when my dad was in his twenties, now going on 67 he can't believe this is still in practice. This is big goverment controling us how ever they can. If it weren't for free trade act and all our buisnesses exporting our work to other countries to make thier products, we (the common worker) wouldn't be so worried about the prices increasing. I mean when i worked in retail, much younger age, i found out that a womans shirt cost the company 10 cents to make in china and then sold it in US for $20 dollars. When it was made in the US it would cost about $5 to make, and still sold for $20. Sadly we can't do much about any of this when the rich and corrupt run the country. Plus too many of us are in our comfort zone and as long as we have our gaming system, starbucks coffee, fancy cell phones, and whatever other distraction they can put in front of us, we will never stand up and do something about it to make a change. The change that Obama promised shouldn't come from the goverment, but us the public. Well my long winded thought is done for now, not sure why i decided to post to this specific article. But I did. Take care and have a good one everyone. >Matt

· Priusmaniac (not verified) · 7 years ago

I rather think Sarah Palin lives in the state where electric cars are the least interesting since they have polar weather and endless distances to travel. They also have a lot of dirt roads so they drive more SUV. Since there is no worst place for an EV vehicle she sticks and old strongly to her ICE. This explains her desire of subsidized low oil price (a form of socialism? (social gasoline for everyone)). She also acts on self interest since her state of Alaska is a large potential producer. She also want to have a lot of jet fuel in case the Russians invade her state, remember, she sees Russians on the border every night (kind of stick in the sixties cold war somehow).
I just wonder why she can’t make an update to 2011 and start to realize the positive aspects for Alaska. They have one of the largest hydropower potential in the country, they have huge reserves of cellulosic ethanol biomass in the form of forests. The possibilities are many, they just wait to be developed.

· · 7 years ago

One possibility for Alaska that I have personally observed is cook inlet. You have consistent 5-10 knot currents in and out of there every day. Drop some turbines in there for f#&%s sake. Of course, as always it would be the government standing in the way of that. Otherwise, it would already be happening.

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