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Securing our energy independence by drilling for oil?

Avatar for Dave Llorens
Published on 09/22/2008 in
Updated 01/15/2019

Republicans won’t cooperate with democrats to get any innovative energy legislation or programs passed unless they are able to drill the hell out of our coastline. Which, really when you have contemplated the graphs below is insanely stupid. Look at these for a second:


    The US peaked in oil production in the 1970’s.
    We have since exhausted 75% of all the known oil reserves in the US, and we are now on our way to consuming the remaining 25%.
    The US peaked in natural gas production in 1973, and in order to keep gas production steady in the US, we have had to drill thousands more wells every year.

The heart of the matter: We have very little remaining oil and gas reserves. Next graph:

Again from Architecture2030:

“According to the US Energy Information Administration, oil production from drilling offshore in the outer continental shelf wouldn’t begin until around the year 2017. Once begun, it wouldn’t reach peak production until about 2030 when it would produce only 200,000 barrels of oil per day (in yellow above). This would supply a meager 1.2% of total US annual oil consumption (just 0.6% of total US energy consumption). And, the offshore oil would be sold back to the US at the international rate, which today is $106 a barrel. So, the oil produced by offshore drilling would not only be a “drop in the bucket”, it would be expensive, which translates to “no relief at the pump”.

All those Republicans, John McCain included are beefing up their political slogans, “Drill, Baby, Drill!” They shout. So, really? You’re gonna block passing renewable energy legislation so your money-lined backers can have a small chunk more of a non-renewable resource to sell into our energy infrastructure? And, a woefully inexperienced woman on the ticket (a simple heartbeat from the presidency who believes Jesus was walking around with dinosaurs) wants to drill even more in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge?

How lovely.

Now, what we really should be doing is taxing the hell out of gasoline like the Danes did in response to the last world oil shock.

Back in 1974, when OPEC decided it would be beneficial to place an embargo on all the countries of the world who recognized Israel, the price of oil quadrupled. The price of oil jettisoned from $3 a barrel to $12 a barrel in one year, creating huge fuel shortages. The Nixon administration even coined a campy slogan to urge more conservation: “Don’t be Fuelish”. Speed limits were reduced to 55 mph across the country. The problem was even serious enough to curb the long heralded: “24 hours of NASCAR”.

Carter drafted some groundbreaking renewable energy legislation and set goals to ensure our independence from foreign oil. Hell, he even installed solar panels on top of the White House.

But alas, Reagan, in addition to tearing down walls separating Germans from each other, also tore down Carter’s solar panels and strident goals from the White House. He ensured oil prices stabilized by exchanging weapons for more oil from countries which continue to hate us (By the way, Germany now has the most solar installed per capita in the world.)

Back to those Danish. What did they do? That’s right, they taxed the hell out of gasoline after the OPEC embargo. “That’s crazy talk!”, you might think. They used proceeds from the additional fuel surcharges to spur on innovation and development of their clean, renewable energy technology. Danish legislators were able to do this because they were not beholden to wealthy oil companies and their lobbyist’s vice grip on their capitol. That was over 25 years ago. Now, they are 100% energy self-reliant and do not need to import any oil or gas from anywhere. Denmark gets over 20% of its energy from wind. The United States, 1%. Oh, and they’re unemployment rate there? Yeah, 1.6%. They are the leading exporter of clean energy technology in the world.

Please wake up from your slumber America. I’m doing all I can do give you a big nudge.

Last modified: January 15, 2019

12 thoughts on “Securing our energy independence by drilling for oil?

  1. Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

    George W, Bush said;America is addicted to oil” Not just foreign oil,oil period. If you have a loved one who is an alcoholic,you do not buy him a case of whiskey for his birthday. You do not give a drug addict the keys to a pharmacy.

    1. Avatar for Patrick Kilhoffer Patrick Kilhoffer says:

      Battery technology is improving rapidly as are both the cost and performance of solar systems. Certainly within a decade, we should be able to buy cost effective fully electric cars with range and performance as good as or better than fossil fueled cars, in volumes high enough to start to make a dent in fossil fuel usage. But, and this is a very large but, it will take years after that before all cars sold are fully electric and two decades after that before the last of the fossil fuel cars leave our roads. Solar power is a cost effective way to fuel electric cars, but cars use a lot of energy and that will require a lot of large Solar Gardens to provide that much juice. At best, we will be depending on fossil fuels for at least another 30 years. We can all do our part to reduce the need for fossil fuels by buying more efficient vehicles, and installing solar systems on our homes, and talking about solar systems to local businesses. While we do that, we need to remember that this transition period is going to take decades, not because we want it to but because there in a huge number of existing, brand new vehicles sold every year and they are going to be driven for up to 20 years.

  2. Avatar for kdl kdl says:

    Oil and gas DO NOT come from dead dinos and is NOT in short supply. The only forms of energy dense enough to drive our future is oil/coal and fusion, everything else is a waste of time and money. We need fusion therefore lets start funding research! In the mean time we have enough oil to sustain us, forget the propaganda about peak oil.

  3. Avatar for Mark Hagerty Mark Hagerty says:

    I am all for getting off our oil addiction, for many reasons. The major two are environmental and geopolitical. The USA has more energy in oil and oil shale than the entire middleeast. Check out the most recent USGS surveys of the Bakken Valley.
    Since we are going to be using oil, at least for the near future, this is my moral quandry — It is better to have countries halfway around the world drill our oil, with little to no concern for the environment, then ship it thousands of miles in supertankers that burn millions of gallons of fossil fuels to get it here. At the same time sending hundreds of billions of dollars overseas to countries that hate us, while at the same time causing a huge trade deficit that forces down the value of our dollar. This money should be spent here generating hundreds of thousands of high paying jobs that would add more taxes, both corporate and payroll, that could be spent to give better tax credits to renewables and research and development.

  4. Avatar for Solar Cooking Solar Cooking says:

    How about the process of abiotic oil!

    If there is any truth in an endless reservoir supply of oil, then we need not worry.

  5. Avatar for David LaFerney David LaFerney says:

    Apparently Americans want to believe that drilling is the answer – making the lie easy to sell. According to the best numbers I could find all of the oil in ANWR and the OCS combined will only prolong the agony by two and a half years on the international market.

  6. Avatar for Rich Rich says:

    There is a misnomer regarding the “known oil reserves”. The 75% depletion of domestic oil is based on oil fields allowed access. It is widely known there are numerous Pacific off shore fields not accessible. Regardless the amount of oil available worldwide, the necessity to employ intelligent strategy toward maximum energy efficiency, is paramount. I work in the renewable sector, and surmised the combination of many sources is going to be the answer. If I can use a PV cell to store energy in a battery, which in turn converts water to hydrogen, viola, a mobile fuel source… the same for wind and sugar based ethanol. Regardless, the transformation will be decades, therefore we will have to accept fossil fuels, and as with anything, strive for moderation.

  7. Avatar for Lionel Lionel says:

    Hopefully Obama will have a great impact, and McCain will retire.

    [email protected]

  8. Avatar for David Llorens David Llorens says:

    Hi Ryan,

    Obama’s energy plan is laid out pretty clearly on his website, and I think it’s pretty solid.

  9. Avatar for Ryan Ryan says:

    Very informative. Does Obama have a plan for this? Sometimes I wonder how America is going to get itself out of this. Will renewable energy ever catch on? Sometimes I doubt it very much; Big Oil has too firm a grasp on our country and the way we run it. I hope this opens more eyes.

  10. Avatar for Vic Vic says:

    This is great information regarding oil and reserves. The idea of drilling for oil is a good move only to those who continue to profit from the antiquated system. There is no logic to it, and in fact it represents going in the wrong direction (something that’s become a tradition in the U.S. under right wing radicals). Progressive attitudes equates to a certain consciousness. It has to do with letting go of old, harmful behaviors and finding a better way to do things.

  11. Avatar for James Livingwell James Livingwell says:

    Excellent and accurate summary.

    James Livingwell

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