Let's clarify the oil 'addiction' - Tucson Local Media: Editorials

Let's clarify the oil 'addiction'

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Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2008 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:02 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

One more big and false cliche is that Americans are “addicted to oil.” What we are supposedly “addicted” to is fuels and products the oil becomes.

Americans don’t care if their cars run on vodka or coyote spit. “Addiction” implies lack of volition — and victimhood. Most of us choose the freedom cars give us and don’t care what fuels them as long as we can drive where we want.  It also indicates the inherent bias of those using the term.

Americans are used to many things, like heat in the winter. Oil and natural gas work better than coal and dead trees. The French generate most of their electricity through nuclear power plants. Are the French addicted to nuclear power? Or electricity? Are Americans also “addicted” to electricity? Or running water?

Many things make our lifestyles superior to our immediate ancestors. We progressed from candles, outhouses and fireplaces to electric lights, ice boxes and inside toilets and then into air conditioning and refrigerators. H. L. Mencken noted almost a hundred years ago that the most under-rated of inventions was the thermostat.

What runs up the price of oil and uses more of it than everybody’s car is so obvious I’m amazed we haven’t addressed it beyond peripheral attempts at limiting shopping bags. Look around at what’s made of plastic. The computer case, keyboard, and monitor I use to write this are examples. I could fill two columns with everything else. We are highly dependent on oil-based plastic products.

The price of oil is bid up by the Chinese not just to fuel their mopeds. As a police state, they could simply order everybody to ride bikes and start walking. They need oil to make all those plastic products we buy at Wal-Mart and everywhere else.

As gas prices climb, it’s easy to focus on that Hummer in the neighbor’s driveway or the salary of the CEO of Exxon-Mobil and yak about alternative energy sources. What will replace plastics?

The need for oil-base products both as fuel but for many other things, from fertilizers and containers to insulation and the ball point pen I’ll address the envelope this column goes into, will continue even if we ultimately replace petrol with Gatorade. Any intelligent energy policy recognizes the need for further domestic oil production along with the development of alternative fuels.

Politicians supporting the Transylvanian Peasant mentality that wants to grab a torch and burn the castles inhabited by Big Oil executives do us no service. Believing American oil companies determine prices and supplies in a world market is held by the socialist, Luddite and primitivist wings of the Democrat coalition and other economic illiterates who want no new drilling anywhere. Some of those whackos actually (ital)want(ital) us to be cold in the dark.

Many claim American oil companies can drill now on existing leases. But leases come before full geological exploration. To demand oil drilling where there is none is a phony response. And if they aren’t using viable fields now, why would they want new ones?

Our need for oil will continue as will price speculation, most of which occurs outside the USA. There are sufficient reserves beyond national parks and wildlife refuges in Rocky Mountain shale, offshore, and in new fields ready to be tapped in Montana and the Dakotas. Those along with immediate expansion of the one proven alternative source, nuclear, will keep our society and economy whole for some time.

When told her people had no bread, Marie Antoinette reportedly said “let them eat cake.” Even Marie wasn’t a big enough airhead to oppose the construction of new bakeries.

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