Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Drilling for Oil

It begins right here ** ** and ends right there. That’s all I’m going to say about today’s weather.

Wife Gator and I had a pleasant day yesterday. We did some shopping and got stocked up a little on some items that the news says are about to rise in prices. Certain paper products were high on the list. We went out to a fast food place for lunch. That usually crowded place was rather lacking in business at noon yesterday. WG tried a clam cake and instantly said she found out why very few (three cars) were there. The clam cake was missing one ingredient. Other similar places we passed on a ride through Scarborough’s Pine Point area were very busy for a Tuesday.

The Republican House of Representatives members in Washington are continuing their protests over the lack of an up or down vote on offshore oil drilling. The House had adjourned Friday morning without taking any vote on drilling. (One unofficial report said it was the vote of a Maine Representative that broke a tie on the adjournment question. Both Maine Democrat Representatives voted to adjourn. Republican Senator Susan Collins, who is seeking re-election in November, had voted against a Senate adjournment, but the Senate adjourned when the House did.)

The episode is turning into an embarrassment for several Democrats nationally who are seeking re-election. Polls have indicated the huge majority of Americans want Congress to act to begin breaking away from foreign dependence on oil. Publicly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who rules the House Democrats with an iron fist, says she not only won’t allow a vote but will introduce an amendment to the budget bill that would extend the current ban another year beyond its scheduled expiration in September.

Privately, according to a report I read on the Drudge Report, she’s telling Democrats up for re-election they may support and even vote for drilling if the no drilling stand is putting their re-election in jeopardy. There is one thing I do admire about the Democrats. They have a loyal solidarity that the Republicans can’t even approach. When the Democrat leadership speaks, the rank and file follows their orders without question. But I digress.

The Democrats do have one point. Many permits for drilling have been issued to oil companies that have not been used. The lawmakers say these should be used first. But oil companies indicate that the cost of exploration in many of those places and the amount of available oil makes them unprofitable. There have been oil fields discovered, all in off-limit places that could support American needs for years, especially long enough for other energy development.

It is true that if drilling began today, it would be several years before the results would show up at American pumps. But as President Bush demonstrated a couple of weeks ago, just the threat of drilling would bring down the price of heating oil and gasoline. When he announced his moratorium on drilling was lifted, gasoline prices were over $4.10 a gallon and even a lot higher in some places. I found prices yesterday at $3.80 a gallon, a 30 cent drop just since the President’s announcement. Looking at prices on the Internet showed some even below $3.70 in other parts of the state.

In June oil companies were charging more than $4.60 a gallon for heating oil. That, too, has dropped. I saw a sign on the back of one truck from a company that deals in cash only below $4.00.

Congressman Allen wants to put more money into the LIHEAP (low income assistance program) fund to help low income Mainers. That’s very nice but that fund is costing all other Mainers more to so they can subsidize the fund. Who is going to help them with the oil bills along with food, taxes, etc.? Certainly not the Maine state government or Congress. Drilling our own oil is just one step in getting energy prices, thus prices for many other goods and services, back closer to a point that people can afford them.

As a side note, I add the country must also get away from the very expensive, cost ineffective ethanol gas program. We should once again get farmers to grow food for human consumption and not fuel for gas consumption. That program is one of the reasons why food prices are rapidly climbing to a point where only staples will be bought.

Gas and oil are only a part of the energy problem. I’ll probably mention others down the line.


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