Bush is gone. Why are oil prices still so high?

2011/02/04

I mean, the skyrocketing of gas prices during the past decade was the result of former President George W. Bush enriching his pals in Big Oil, right?

Or, at least, that was the prevailing assumption among certain Americans. Yet gasoline prices have not sunk back to their pre-Bush-era lows despite our having Obama and a Democratically-controlled Congress for the past two years. The possible reasons for this?

  1. Big Oil is somehow dodging or stopping President Obama’s efforts to lower gas prices.
  2. Bush wasn’t responsible for the price rise in the first place.

The answer, by the way, is probably #2. Neither the President of the United States nor the Congress have the ability to affect commodity prices like that.

No, the problem is our dependence upon foreign oil to supply so much of our energy requirement. The current unrest in Egypt underscores our urgent need to get out from behind this economic eight-ball.

Here’s what we need to do, in order of priority:

  • Start drilling our own oil. This is just smart economics. We need to do it efficiently and safely, and we’ve got to start now! I’m a great proponent of protecting the environment, but come on…we’re smart enough to find a way to do both.
  • Start developing alternative energy sources, such as nuclear. We’ve learned enough by now to do this safely, too.
  • Develop clean, renewable energy. Ironically, drilling our own oil reserves might be the kick in the pants we need to stop waffling on clean energy. Right now, no clean energy sources are efficient enough to pay for themselves, but with the money we could save and generate by not being extorted by OPEC or out-bought by China (whose growing consumption is also a factor in high oil cost), we could fund research into new innovations.

I don’t pretend that this is going to solve all our energy problems. But it’s a darn sight better than what we’re doing right now.

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