Now meeting the goal of cutting our dependence depends largely on two things: first, finding and producing more oil at home; second, reducing our overall dependence on oil with cleaner alternative fuels and greater efficiency. This begins by continuing to increase America’s oil supply.
These were the words spoken by President Obama on March 30 in an address he gave at Georgetown University on America’s energy security. The president also stated in the same speech that “one big area of concern has been the cost and security of our energy,” and “ … our best opportunities to enhance our energy security can be found in our own backyard … ”
Today, Fox News reports that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is forcing the Shell Oil Company to scrap its efforts to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean, off the northern coast of Alaska. The move by the EPA is based on the decision that the arctic drilling will be hazardous to those who reside in a small village located 70 miles away from the proposed off-shore drill site.
The EPA’s appeals board ruled that Shell had not taken into consideration emissions from an ice-breaking vessel when calculating overall greenhouse gas emissions from the project. Environmental groups were thrilled by the ruling.
The stakes associated with Shell’s proposed drilling site are high: an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil. Furthermore, oil production on the North Slope of Alaska is currently so low that any more decrease in production will result in the shutdown of the pipeline. Is that how we reduce dependence on foreign oil?
The problem is the Obama Administration is not walking in step with the president’s most recent speech. Today they scrapped what may have become an important step to increasing more oil produced in America. President Obama stated in his speech, “…producing more oil in America can help lower oil prices, can help create jobs, and can enhance our energy security…”
In the same speech he said:
Right now the [oil] industry holds tens of millions of acres of leases where they’re not producing a single drop. They’re just sitting on supplies of American energy that are ready to be tapped. That’s why part of our plan is to provide new and better incentives to promote rapid, responsible development of these resources.
Again, it doesn’t look like the Obama Administration is following through with its message.
Among other problems, we can see that this latest action by the Obama Administration will do nothing to slow the rapid rise in the price of gasoline. In a recent commentary, Ray Nothstine articulates many of the problems Americans are seeing by the rising gas prices:
Many individuals and families are already curtailing discretionary spending to save for gas. In turn, more money and jobs exit the U.S. economy for oil exporting countries.
Some lawmakers from both parties in oil producing states are asking for more domestic drilling, more refineries, and uniform state standards on gasoline mixture requirements. All of these proposals will help lower prices and could add hundreds of thousands of American jobs.
President Obama has responded by saying an increase in domestic drilling “will help some.” He also signaled he may be willing to tap more of the Canadian oil sands, but at the same time, he wants to cut oil imports by one-third.
High prices at the pump can offer a moment to pause too and remember a spiritual truth. The price of gas not only draws attention to the Middle East, but it draws our attention back to the Garden of Eden that tradition places in that oil-rich region.
Oil itself is decayed vegetation and plankton that has seeped into the ground, forming over millions of years. At one time wildlife was abundant and forests were especially lush in the garden. In the creation story we are reminded that after the fall of man, we have to toil for resources (Genesis 3:19).
While we are bound to labor, 17th century Bible commentator and Presbyterian minister Matthew Henry reminds us, “Let not us, by inordinate care and labor, make our punishment heavier than God has made it; but rather study to lighten our burden.”
President Obama’s speech, delivered on March 30, 2011, can be read here.
To read Ray Nothstine’s commentary, “High Gas Prices Devastating to Poor” click here.