In the midst of an undeniable demonstration of Obama’s “hope and change,” energy prices are skyrocketing. Gasoline has already surpassed $4 a gallon in some parts of the country, and is bumping up against that magic number in others. And because oil is over $100 a barrel, with some within OPEC predicting it will reach $130bbl, there is little reason to expect gasoline prices to do anything other than climb higher in the near future.

One of the problems we face right now is the uncertainty in Libya, an OPEC nation that has cut its normal daily output of 1.6 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) to just over 700,000, amid the political tensions surrounding Muammar Gaddafi. What this means for humanity as a whole is that there is now less oil on the world’s market to meet the demand around the globe. What this means for you and I as Americans is that our refusal to “drill here, drill now” is catching up to us with a vengeance.

The noose we allowed foreign oil producers to place around our necks is tightening.

And the worst part of all this is neither the per gallon gasoline price nor the per barrel price of oil, but rather the fact that it doesn’t have to be this way. We could be pumping enough oil here at home to offset the ramifications of the upheaval in Libya, but our president, various members of his administration, and the majority of Democrats in the Senate remain unwilling to budge on the idea. Therefore, we’ve literally turned our backs on billions upon billions of barrels of oil that we could be extracting and using right here at home.

For example, there are formations in Montana and North Dakota that hold upwards of “20 billion barrels of recoverable crude.” Moreover, these “formations also hold the natural gas equivalent of 4 billion barrels of oil.” These figures represent such vast amounts of oil that if we were just to avail ourselves of the crude in North Dakota alone, it would place that state among “the 13 or 14 largest producing countries” in the world.

And how about Alaska? Recent reports about that state’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) show that it contains amounts of oil on par with Montana and North Dakota, and even exceeds them in the amount of natural gas it contains (“15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas”).

In fact, studies show that “drilling on Alaska’s OCS could make Alaska the eighth largest oil resource province in the world.” Yet we choose to rely on the Saudis, countries like Venezuela, and men like Gaddafi for the crude we need to make fuel for our cars, trucks, trains, airplanes, etc.

And I haven’t even mentioned the number of jobs active oil exploration and extraction would produce in Alaska, Montana, and North Dakota. The job figures for Alaska alone number “almost 55,000.”