The Collegian
Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Political Face Off: The great American oil dilemma

We Need Oil: Drill, drill, drill!

Richmond College '09

As college students, we are known to be short on money. We don't have much of an income. I know I have paid for gas with quarters on one or two occasions. How did it feel paying for the ridiculous gas prices this summer? Better yet, what if we actually had domestically produced oil that would provide more supply for the huge demand for our gas-guzzling Hummers, pickup trucks and soccer-mom vans? And what about the elderly and low-income families? America can alleviate the pain at the pump.

This is a matter of simple economics and I believe in a two-step plan that focuses on short-term and long-term alleviation for our pain at the pump. Achieving energy independence is crucial. Thank you, Mr. Calhoun, for recognizing my seeing another light, but your plan is incomplete as are your arguments. America can achieve energy independence for the short term and long term.

First, we need to drill. With improving technologies, drilling can potentially leave less of a mess. Drill off the Atlantic shores, in the Gulf of Mexico, off the Pacific shores and drill in ANWR! Maybe we'll find crude in Mr. Calhoun's head! Mr. Calhoun and fellow democrats can still make babies with the animals they love so much and us rich, elitist republicans and normal people can still drive to work and soccer practice, contributing to our society.

Take, for example, the specific point of ANWR. ANWR stands for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It is a 19 million-acre piece of federal real estate in Alaska roughly the size of South Carolina. You've probably heard of it before because republicans have tried ever since the Clinton administration to open up drilling there. Much to Mr. Calhoun's surprise, the proposed drilling site is only 2,000 acres (or 3.13 square miles) in the Coastal Plain of ANWR. The arctic environment would not be destroyed. The proposed site is a dot on the map of Alaska and is in the Coastal Plain not far from Prudhoe Bay, where oil can be transported and sent down the Trans-Alaskan pipeline.

The second part of my idea is also simple. Invest in and make incentives for the development of alternative energies. While we exhaust the last of the oil fields on planet Earth, we can come up with alternative energies to replace oil just in time. Though Mr. Calhoun would remind you that the ANWR site has to be built first and that the oil will take years to start flowing into the market, I will say that if it wasn't for Clinton, we'd have that oil by now and prices wouldn't be so sky-high. During his second term, he vetoed a bill that would've lifted the ANWR ban, which passed both houses when Republicans dominated the Hill.

Mr. Calhoun's plan of shifting around tax structures, tweaking with new technologies and forcing gas prices while blaming it all on us, evades all reason and logic. You need more oil to meet our high demand if you want prices to go down. And I have certainly proved that drilling in at least one site would not cause so much damage to Mr. Calhoun's beloved environment.

If you ever run into me, you are welcome to drill away. You'll just find the truth John thinks he has.

Drill! But not where you think.

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Richmond College '09

My fellow democrats may be surprised to learn than I'm an ardent supporter of drilling. But before the Sierra Club cues the hit squad, let me be more specific: The only kind of drilling in which I'm interested is drilling the truth into Paul's head. Paul's not entirely wrong about energy, he's just mostly wrong. He understands that we need to research alternative energy sources and he finally acknowledges that achieving energy independence is one of the most pressing geopolitical issues facing the United States today.

It's not too hard to grasp why energy independence is so crucial. Every year the United States spends hundreds of billions of dollars purchasing oil from despotic regimes such as Saudi Arabia. The Saudis use their wealth to purchase luxury yachts, oppress their people and buy the allegiance of fundamentalist Wahhabi clerics (who then oppress their people again). By holding their young men in poverty, ignorance and alienation -- and I won't even mention what they do to their women -- the Saudis fan the flames of Islamic extremism. How many 9/11 hijackers were Saudi? Fifteen of the nineteen.

Not only does American dependence on foreign oil foment terrorism, our addiction also empowers enemy states. Russia, Iran, Venezuela--all of these countries thrive on the profits generated in large measure by American oil consumption. Every time we fill up our SUVs we do our part to subsidize Russian revanchism. Thus, when I listen to Mr. Negrin extol plans to drill in ANWR, I strongly believe that he's missing the larger geostrategic point.

The United States needs to wean itself from foreign oil, but Paul's not only missing the larger point, he's wrong about what he manages to consider. Granting all of Paul's factual claims, some of which I doubt would pan out, there's still the problem that drilling in ANWR wouldn't help lower gas prices. In other words, drilling in ANWR is not the short-term solution Paul believes it to be.

First, the majority of non-partisan estimates project ANWR oil to reach markets in the 2020s. Though this delay is in part because democrats have consistently blocked development projects, we have to look at these things as they are now.

Second, even when the oil did reach our markets around 2024, it wouldn't have much of an impact on oil prices. According to a 2008 report by the Energy Information Administration, the independent statistical agency of the Department of Energy, the savings generated by an influx of oil from ANWR would be so slight as to have little impact on global oil prices. OPEC could simply lessen its oil production and thereby ensure consistent prices.

I understand that many people are suffering from the energy burden. Besides the additional expense it takes Spiders to travel to and from home during breaks, I'm concerned about the poor and infirm elderly who may die this winter because they can't afford to heat their homes. The United States should consider levying a carbon tax. If the proceeds from the tax were directed to poor Americans, we could simultaneously move toward our geostrategic objectives and save the worst off. Now let's find Paul and start drilling.

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