When the price of oil skyrocketed last year the pressure was on for several things to occur. First, there was growing sentiment to drill here on our own land for more of our own oil. The price we’re paying for foreign oil is some serious coin and those funds aren’t all going to people we should be dealing with in the first place. Friendly or not, it puts America’s security at some level of risk to have someone else’s hand on the energy spigot. Second, the effect of the rising costs was to make some alternative energy sources more attractive and that was directing more development dollars toward things like “green” energy and alternative-fuel vehicles and power generation. Both of these things were, I believe, net positives for America and I was hoping they’d continue even without $4/gallon gas at the pumps.
As we’ve seen, when the prices started to relax in the face of a global economic downturn the pressure to pursue either of these goals diminished back to the point where people weren’t really thinking of them in the short-term. When those oil prices started coming down, many people were saying that we shouldn’t rely on that because they’d start coming back up again as soon as the economic situation appeared to be improving. Well, that’s exactly what’s happening:
Oil prices leapt above $70 a barrel Monday in Asia on investor expectations a recovering global economy will boost crude demand.
Benchmark crude for September delivery was up $1.12 to $70.57 a barrel by late afternoon Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, the contract rose $2.51 to settle at $69.45.
Oil prices seesawed last week before surging Thursday and Friday as investors bet that crude demand, which has been tepid this summer, will eventually pick up as the economy improves.
There is little reason to think that the price of oil – and that means gas, eventually – won’t come right back up to where it was last year or even higher. All the talk about how drilling for more of our own natural resources won’t help because of the time it takes to bring a well on-line ignores the fact that had we not listened to such tripe 10 years ago then those wells would have been producing right now when we need them most. Today is the soonest we can start preparing for our own energy needs and the fact that they won’t be ready for use tomorrow doesn’t make starting the project a bad idea. In fact, it’s the prudent thing to do.
At the same time we can start making it easier for people who want to deploy alternative energy sources to build and connect them to the power grid. Tax incentives will help the former, legislation the latter. We need to be building a lot more nuclear power plants than we have today and we need to be taking advantage of the 30 years’ worth of technological advancements in that field when we do. French-style fuel reprocessing will handle a large part of the waste issue and the additional nukes will provide the kind of power we need using proven technology available today.
I know there are issues with it, but I’m still more of a fan than not of the Pickens Plan of wind power generation. I think we can deal with the matter of converting our cars (and especially our truck fleets) to use natural gas and there are signs of real progress in putting workable electric cars on the road.
Rising oil costs are only going to keep going and every dollar we spend on foreign oil is a dollar not being earned by American workers who could surely use them. This rise we see is a wake-up call, if we’ll just reach over and pick it up.