TULSA WORLD: Drill, baby?


Drill, baby?

Obama facing early energy decisions
By World's Editorial Writers
Published: 12/29/2008  2:21 AM
Last Modified: 12/29/2008  2:28 AM

Link to Editorial: http://www.tulsaworld.com/opinion/article.aspx?subjectid=61&articleid=20081229_61_A15_OKoili924119

OK, oil is cheap right now. It has dropped below $42 a barrel. So, is now the time to abandon all attempts to make the United States somewhat self-sufficient in oil? No.

It's easy and popular to say that developing alternate fuels for our vehicles will end our dependence on imported oil. It would be a great help. But the fact remains that we will never, at least not in the foreseeable future, totally end our dependence on oil. It's needed for too many things other than fuel to drive our cars.

It is needed to make plastics, lip balm, cosmetics and so many other things we use every day. Until someone comes up with something to replace that, we will need oil.

That does not mean that we ought to abandon all environmental sense and simply start drilling holes everywhere. But it does mean that we ought to logically think through what can and must be done in the short term to get us through.

Offshore drilling is anathema to many environmentalists. Just mention it and they become enraged. But offshore drilling can be safe for the environment. And with directional drilling and other options, other areas can be explored without doing harm.

President-elect Barack Obama will face a decision when he takes office. The Bush administration has been pro-drilling and even Obama said during the campaign that he would consider more drilling options - that, of course, was when oil was going for about $150 a barrel.

Now plans are being made to allow offshore drilling in, of all places, Virginia.

A ban on drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf ended in the last two months. Now the U.S. Department of Interior has closed the public comment period to lease 2.9 million acres of ocean to oil companies. That completes the first step into opening the area to drilling.

Obama will be pressured to reverse course on the Virginia drilling and it needs to be closely studied. But he ought not make any hasty decisions.

The U.S. is going to need oil from somewhere for some time to come. Running our vehicles on electricity or hydrogen or natural gas (which would require more natural gas) will not solve our oil problem.

Gasoline is cheap now. It might not be at this time next year or the next. Obama must keep his and the country's options open and do what is best for both the short-term and long-term needs of the country.