With the average gallon of gas in the U.S. hovering around $4 and Middle Eastern upheaval threatening countries’ production, the "drill here, drill now" mantra has risen from the ashes of the 2008 election — this time echoed by none other than President Barack Obama. Although this policy might be politically sound, it does nothing considering oil prices are dictated by OPEC production. Instead of wasting time and resources to pursue an unsustainable policy guaranteed to further our dependency on oil while spoiling some of our pristine nature preserves and coast lines, Americans should channel the enthusiasm of “drill, baby, drill” into a committed pursuit of renewable energy sources that can sustain and strengthen our country.
Even if the U.S. was able to produce enough domestic oil to meet such a demand, a significant portion would not stay stateside because — unlike other oil-producing countries — the U.S. does not have a state-run oil company. Instead, U.S. oil would be exported to the global market by the oil companies. Today, U.S. exports total approximately 1.7 million bbl per day, roughly 18% of its oil production. If the point of increasing domestic production is to wean ourselves off of oil from other countries, having to buy our own oil back isn’t a rational solution.
The only way out from under the burden of heavy gas prices and the arbitrary global oil market is to invest in alternative energy sources that not only free us from the destructive nature of petroleum, but coal and natural gas as well. Imagine American highways filled with electric cars powered by a power grid based off of vertical axis wind turbines, houses covered with solar panel shingles, and a revised and renovated transportation infrastructure that moves freight and passengers on high speed electric rail. These technologies exist and, with enough political will and courage, could be implemented by a forward-looking Congress.
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