Saturday, May 01, 2010

The U.S. has long been beyond "Peak Oil"

Yesterday, I heard House Minority Leader John Boehner proclaiming we need to free ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil.

This is a common refrain from Conservatives and those who receive considerable support from the petroleum industry.

But the United States long ago passed its peak oil production, when the "easy oil" was sucked dry. Now, even with enhanced technologies for deep water drilling and small footprint extraction, we are are turning to ever more invasive and destructive methods to meet demands. Tar or oil sands (bitumen), hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") and horizontal directional drilling are all high tech, high cost technologies that have served to slow the decline of the American oil industry, but they'll never reverse this trend. We have simply wasted our treasure - much of it on wars.

Those who condemn our dependence upon foreign oil, rarely mention that Canada is our largest foreign supplier of oil. The deception is intentional as it exploits and stokes the present xenophobic "War on Terror" paranoia pervading America.

These same politicians will not speak of the need for sacrifice, for Americans to actually act responsibly and not waste irreplaceable resources. They won't mention the importance of efficiency and properly valuing the riches that "God" (or whoever you believe in) bestowed upon this earth.

Newt Gingrich said that there is an abundance of coal in America and that we must fully exploit to help free us from the grip of foreign dictators. Why there's a 500-year supply here, he said! And then what? 500 years and then no more. In the case of oil, we see the end of an era playing out before our eyes.

Obviously, these people have boundless faith that technology will come to the rescue. No sacrifice is required. (Certainly nothing that might be construed as "socialist" and "anti-capitalist" - something that serves the common good.)

There may still be plenty of oil out there in the World, but, bitter medicine that it is, we might actually have to be a good global citizen and negotiate fair contracts with nation states before they will share their limited resources. One thing is clear: we cannot afford to continue the wholesale environmental destruction and the wars for resources that have characterized our approach to date.

John Boehner is handing the patient a band-aid, when a visit to the emergency room is in order.

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