Oil drilling is no immediate answer to problem

Published 6:35 pm Monday, July 14, 2008

The U.S. is closer to begin offshore drilling, but even with the latest grandstanding tactic of the Bush Administration, it would still take years before any impact would be felt in the oil price market.

Yesterday, President George W. Bush lifted an executive ban on offshore drilling for oil. However, that action is meaningless if Congress doesn’t follow suit by lifting its moratorium on offshore drilling. In recent months, Bush has asked Congress to lift its ban.

“The only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil resources is action from the U.S. Congress,” Bush said in a statement in the Rose Garden. “Now the ball is squarely in Congress’ court.”

Don’t fool yourself. While it sounds like Bush is doing something good, really nothing has changed. No drilling will begin anytime soon, and once the order is given to start drilling again, it will take years before any oil reaches our gas pumps.

Even if Congress lifts its ban, no one would see any immediate relief. The only way to get some immediate relief would be to find some oil or alternative energy source that would decrease our dependence on foreign oil. There is only one way to do that – open up the federal oil reserves. (Actually, the threat of opening up the oil reserves might even be enough to get the oil countries and companies to back down.)

Coupled with opening up the reserves, the government should impose a tax on the oil companies to help develop new alternative energy sources. This revenue would fund research to find what would be our next major energy source for coming generations.

That would be true leadership.

It is unlikely we will see that happen. There is no one in Washington D.C. who would make such a bold move. That could be because many of our politicians’ campaigns are funded by oil money.

But with gas prices the way they are, who knows? This might just be the right time to clean house.