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So, Why NOT Drill More?

The election season has begun to bring the usual set of invented issues chosen by the candidates and their handlers to differentiate them from their opponents. My view is that the call for opening the arctic and offshore areas for more drilling is really more about that than about “solving the energy crisis.” Why?

  1. The oil companies are not now using all of the oil exploration and drilling areas that are currently open to them. If they aren’t using those that they have access to now, why would we expect them to expand their extraction to even more areas?
  2. As has been pointed out many times, if the areas under discussion were “opened” and the oil companies actually did begin the process leading to oil extraction, it would be something like a decade before any of this oil actually entered the market, and the decrease in oil costs would likely be a few cents per gallon… and a time when the price of fuel will undoubtedly be much higher than it is today. In other words, “too little and too late.”
  3. And even then the supply of oil is finite. We can put off the time when we must develop alternatives, but that day will definitely arrive.
  4. Our energy problem is not simply a problem of “not enough oil,” and the increased price of oil provides a good old fashioned free market incentive to move towards making better use of the alternatives, which will now be more financially viable in relationship to oil. Government incentives for developing these alternatives would do us far more good in the long term.
  5. If waving of a magic wand would suddenly produce an unending supply of cheap oil, we would still have to deal with the very serious problem of increasing CO2 levels from burning that oil. In other words, even with plenty of cheap oil available, we would still need to greatly diminish our use of it… and soon.

July 30, 2008 - Posted by | Commentary


  1. So why not drill more? Well, even forgetting about global warming and politics and all that, if you need one more reason not to drill, just look at the coastal pictures you have taken Dan, and imagine them polluted and coated with oil. What a delightful picture that would be. NOT!

    And instead I ask, can’t we preserve anything? Do we have to destroy it all? Do we have to use it all up now as fast as we can? Can’t we save anything?

    Comment by cynthialeeder | July 31, 2008

  2. Cynthia, hope I wasn’t being too obtuse with that post. I definitely am not in favor of this election year game with drilling.

    Comment by Dan Mitchell | August 1, 2008

  3. Hi Dan, oh no, you were being very clear. I was just writing rhetorically s0 to speak, using your piece to bounce off of. We’re on the same page on this, definitely!

    Comment by cynthialeeder | August 1, 2008

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