During 2008, when gasoline topped $4 a gallon in many parts of the U.S., political figures like former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) chanted the popular cry: “Drill Here, Drill Now!” Bumper stickers calling for expanded drilling in the U.S. were ubiquitous, and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin relentlessly pushed to have the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) opened for drilling.
Average, everyday Americans were heavily involved as well. And taken in retrospect, 2008’s “Drill Here, Drill Now” movement became so vocal that the push for expanded domestic oil production was nothing less than a precursor to the tea parties that popped up throughout the U.S. in 2009.
Yet here we are in 2010, and the mantra is lost. After gas prices fell in late 2008, many of the “Drill Here, Drill Now” crowd apparently moved on to other causes. As a result, we didn’t drill here and we now face the prospect of paying $3.25 (or more) a gallon for our gasoline this coming summer. And estimates are that this approaching price increase will raise the average American’s monthly gasoline expenditures beyond what many can bear.
To put this into perspective, during the first week of 2010 gasoline prices had already increased so much that the Associated Press reported that “a typical motorist [would pay] about $50 more a month” for gasoline in the early months of 2010 than that same motorist paid during the latter months of 2009. Moreover, if we broaden our view so that it includes the country as a whole and not just individual motorists, a future without expanded domestic drilling looks bleak. According to Oil Price Information Service analyst Tom Kloza, “The current U.S. fuel bill [is] about $1.066 billion each day. A year ago, that daily outlay was about $625 million.’’
And don’t forget — we’re still in the middle of a recession, folks. The high gas prices we dealt with in 2008 weren’t exacerbated by Obama’s “hope and change” the way the coming spike in prices will be.
What makes the pending higher gasoline prices so frustrating is that it doesn’t have to be this way. For example, we know that one area known as the Green River Formation (GRF) in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming “holds the equivalent of 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil.” That’s as much as America “would use in 110 years, at current consumption levels, and three times the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.” And if we consider the GRF, ANWR, and all our offshore opportunities together, our untapped reserves are “estimated at about 2.3 trillion barrels, nearly three times more than the reserves held by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and sufficient to meet 300 years of demand.”
Therefore, going without oil when so much of it lies under our feet is like sitting in a chair at the dinner table and starving ourselves to death by refusing to reach out and eat the feast set before us. It makes no sense whatsoever.
And who’s behind this lack of drilling? Are Chevron, Exxon, and that rascally Marathon Oil Corporation working together to make petroleum scarce in order to drive prices up? Nope. Instead, the usual suspects are at work here: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), along with President Obama and his interior secretary, Ken Salazar (D-CO). These people seek to hide their refusal to drill behind the mask of environmental concerns.
It was Salazar who recently halted drilling in the GRF until “stricter environmental standards” for the oil and gas companies can be implemented. “We don’t believe we ought to be drilling anywhere and everywhere,” Salazar told the Wall Street Journal, adding that instead, “we believe we need a balanced approach and a thoughtful approach.”
By now we should know we’re in trouble when a leftie like Salazar uses the phrase “thoughtful approach” when he stops domestic drilling in the name of saving rodents on the endangered species list. At the least, we should know that our SUVs and pickup trucks are headed for extinction in an economic environment that will price many Americans out of the vehicles they own and love.
Yet I can scarcely find an elected Republican who’s calling for expanded drilling. Nor do I hear a peep out of the grassroots conservatives who, just two years ago, couldn’t quit screaming “Drill Here, Drill Now.”
Even if we take a pragmatic look at drilling, this widespread silence is crazy because this is a winning issue for conservatives and Republicans alike. Just like tax cuts, smaller government, and the Second Amendment, a renewed push for expanded domestic drilling is always a hit with free men who want to remain free.
It’s time to take up the mantra of economic independence once more and demand that our politicians lead, follow, or get out of the way, so we can “Drill Here, Drill Now.”