Drill Baby, Drill

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Sarah Palin underscored her bid for the vice-presidency by repeatedly chanting the phrase, “Drill baby, drill”. This catchphrase galvanized her support for offshore drilling in the waters bordering American soil. 

According to Baker Hughes, an organization that tracks oil platforms, there are over 600 offshore oil rigs in the United States. When you consider that these 600 rigs account for only 4% of America’s consumption, one must ask—considering the risk for disaster—why even consider it? 96% of our crude oil still comes from foreign countries, mostly Arab nations. 

I watched a news conference yesterday hosted by Coastguard Admiral Thad Allen. He’s assigned to lead America’s effort to monitor the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and to partner with British Petroleum to ultimately harness the massive oil leak. I listened with great interest as Admiral Allen waltzed around the tough questions posed by the media. 49 days into this disaster and it’s nowhere near containment. In fact, it will take years and billions of dollars to clean up the mess. 

What really put me over the edge were the videos of pelicans and other sea animals saturated with crude oil. A friend of mine told me that Sea World has repeatedly offered to send volunteers to the Gulf Coast to rescue these animals, but neither our government nor BP would allow it. 

I am so pissed off I can hardly articulate my feelings. Over 30 years ago, when the oil embargo created a tremendous shortage of gasoline, our government and American citizens as well, swore that we would find ways to reduce, if not completely eliminate our dependence on crude oil. And where are we today? Our addiction to oil is out of control. Take a look around at freeways and expressways; note the number of 4-door pickup trucks, SUV’s, and gas-guzzling Hummers. I ask you, why in the name of God would anyone with a grain of common sense buy a Hummer? 

Until he was caught in the squeeze and laid off from General Motors, my son worked as an engineer at a facility tasked with the responsibility to develop the hydrogen fuel cell. It’s quite a remarkable invention and the technology cutting edge. If we truly wanted to end our dependence on crude oil, the hydrogen fuel cell could be the answer.

But here’s the problem: our government thinks nothing about coughing up 800 billion dollars to bail out failed financial organizations, nor do they skip a beat spending nearly a trillion dollars on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not to mention the hundreds of worthless government programs taxpayers support, and the billions of dollars we dole out in foreign aid. Yet as crucial as it is for us to end forever our dependence on oil, our government does nothing. 

If we were serious about ending our oil addiction forever, our lawmakers would pass legislation to partner with the major automobile manufacturers to develop the hydrogen fuel cell, electric cars and solar power. If we allocated 100 billion dollars for this joint venture, which in the scheme of things is merely a drop in the bucket, in less than 10 years we could all be driving vehicles powered by hydrogen, electric and the sun. But don’t hold your breath. As long as the oil producing companies are in bed with politicians, it’s merely a pipedream.

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