Saturday, August 02, 2008

Obama Makes Another Misstep

Obama has modified his stance on offshore drilling:

Barack Obama said Friday that he would be willing to compromise on his position against offshore oil drilling if it were part of a more overarching strategy to lower energy costs.

“My interest is in making sure we’ve got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices,” Obama told The Palm Beach Post early into a two-day swing through Florida.

“If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage – I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done,” Obama said.

I know that there are people who are suffering because of high gas prices. It is not hurting me as a percentage of my income as hard as it is hitting millions of people in the U.S. right now and not nearly as hard as it has hit people in the Europe and the U.K. for years. I want to see the price of gas come down as much as the next guy when it is my turn at the pump but the reality is that we need to recognize that it is a finite resource and it is going to run out some day. They aren't making any more! Not only is it a finite resource but it is a dirty one and we are choking on it and will soon be roasting ourselves because of it.

Here is the thing...I don’t want to see gas prices come down because we’re drilling and finding more. We in the United States are finally getting a taste of what it’s been like in Europe and the rest of the world for a long time. The result of the high gas prices in Europe is cleaner cities, abundant and affordable public transportation and far less dependence on foreign oil.
My problem with this is that I think democrats should be solidly be on the side of finding alternative energy. Rising gas prices have made a difference. I’ve noticed a lot more people riding MARTA in Atlanta – a LOT more. I’d be willing to bet many of these people were like me, before I made a commitment to figuring out the system and how to make it work. Pain works.

There will never be improvements made in mass transit, no one will ever start investing in wind energy, and no one will be pushing for plug-in hybrids or electric cars if gas remains cheap and by European standards $4.00 gas is cheap, cheap. Now with gas at $4.00, we’re starting to seriously talk about alternative energy sources. We’ve even got T. Boone Pickens, a big-time oil guy, completely investing himself in it. Yeah, I know he thinks he’ll make a fortune off it but I really don’t care as long as we all get to benefit. If he’s the one who makes it happen, then I’ll pay him instead of some Arab sheik . We cannot drill our way out of this mess and the sooner we bite the bullet and start on the path to alternative energy the better.

Again, I would like to see the price of oil come down, but NOT because we’re drilling an pumping more of it. I want to see it come down because we don’t need it and we let that nasty old law of supply and demand kick in.

Obama’s new position is wrong. We Democrats need to stand up and insist that we turn our backs on foreign oil and end our dependence. There should be no compromise. Drilling for oil along our coasts at great expense, environmental risk and marginal reward still 20 or more years down the road is insane at best and stupid at worst. Drilling for more oil is a false god that will lead us away from the true path which is finding non-polluting and renewable energy resources.

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