Economist Dean Baker, co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, wrote a terrific column last Spring that came to mind over the last few days. It discusses the lack of follow-through from most mainstream media sources when it comes to calling politicians on their hyperbole, their exaggerations and at times their plain old misinformation they resort to when answering questions. In this column, Baker discusses two different subjects. The meme that if we drilled, baby drilled, we could solve our problem at the pumps when it comes to the cost of a gallon of gasoline here in the USA. The second topic he comments is the state of our Social Security program.
Even though the column is almost a year old, I thinks its especially timely when it comes to our fuel prices. What Mr. Baker said back in March of 2011, holds true still today...
Its titled, "The Imaginary World in Which Washington Lives"
Truthout, March 23, 2011
It is a beautiful spring day in Washington. This is a nice respite from the horrors taking place in Japan and the ever-growing nuttiness of D.C. politics. Enjoying the weather provides a nice alternative to listening to the news or reading the newspaper.
The flood of nonsense in the traditional news outlets just continues to grow. At the top of the list is the steady stream of senators or members of Congress whose response to higher gas prices is to insist on drilling in every square inch of environmentally sensitive territory in the country. This is supposed to reduce our dependence on imported oil and lower the price of gas. Both sides of this assertion are absurd.
According to the Energy Information Agency, the United States has proven reserves of 22.3 billion barrels of oil. Given our current rate of consumption of 6.9 billion barrels a year, U.S. reserves could meet our demand for oil for less than 3.5 years. That means if we could somehow drill here, now, and everywhere, we could be energy independent until the middle of 2014 and then we would be 100 percent dependent on imported oil.
Of course, we cannot suddenly suck all the oil out of the ground at once, it takes time to explore and drill wells and then the oil must be drilled out over time. If we decided that we want to destroy every last national park and coastal region, we may be able to increase production by 1.0-1.5 million barrels a day in 5-10 years. At the high end, this would be a bit less than 2 percent of world supply.
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