Breaking imported oil addiction must be top priority
By Rep. Jeff Duncan • November 24, 2008
Here in the Southeast, we recently saw severe gas shortages because of Hurricane Ike. All along the I-85 corridor, you couldn't find stations with gas, and when you did, you paid a steep premium for it. It was reminiscent of the 1970s oil crisis. The problem is despite the falling gas prices today, we are still going to be in a modern day oil crisis.
During this election, you undoubtedly saw the ads featuring Texas wildcat oilman Boone Pickens talking about our nation's addiction to foreign oil. He does a very good job in laying out the problem. And unlike most elected officials in Washington, he has a plan to solve the problem: Use America's abundance of wind and natural gas to break us of our addition to foreign oil.
Today we import some 70 percent of the oil we consume and we pay approximately $700 billion per year for it. As a country, we spend as much as the Wall Street bailout is projected to cost every year on imported oil. And forecasts show that we will continue to import more going forward unless we do something to change it.
In Washington, the solution of the day is "drill here, drill now." While that may make a good bumper sticker slogan, I think it's shortsighted and misses the mark. Drilling is good, but we need a lot more than that.
We need to take advantage of every resource we have here at home to provide energy. This does include more drilling, but also needs to include using clean coal, increased use of natural gas for transportation, looking at nuclear and investing in renewable resources.
The Pickens Plan uses power generated with wind to replace power generated from natural gas. The natural gas that wouldn't be needed for power generation could then be used to fuel large truck and fleet vehicles like city buses, municipal trash trucks and even some big city taxi fleets. This will cut down on the amount of oil consumed and lower the amount we spend on importing oil.
What I like most about the Pickens Plan is that instead of continuing to send $700 billion per year overseas for oil, we can start to invest some of the savings the United States. By investing in wind, natural gas, solar, cellulosic ethanol and a whole host of other renewable technologies here in the United States, we are investing in our economy, our jobs and our future.
Here in South Carolina, we could reap the benefits of those new technologies and new jobs.
That's one reason I have signed the Pickens Energy Independence Pledge and urge my fellow elected officials at all levels of government to do the same at www.pickensplan.com. As elected officials we have to show true leadership on this issue if we are going to break our addiction to imported oil.
Pickens has been asked several times why someone at his age -- he's 80 years old, by the way -- would be spending as much time and money as he is on this. His answer is simple. It's not for him, it's for our children and grandchildren. If we don't do something to tackle this problem now, their standard of living is at risk.
I have children of my own, and completely understand his answer.