Editorial: Oil and Politics

Jim Wilcox, a colleague of mine in Albany, Georgia shared with some of us the other day his thoughts on the oil situation. I agree with him.

Those of us in middle age and beyond remember what the younger set will hopefully never see: cars lined up by the dozens, waiting for gas that isn't there.

That was in 1973, when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, decided they'd teach America a lesson for backing Israel in the conflict with its Arab neighbors in the Yom Kippur War.

Well, it did teach us a lesson: that we were way too dependent on Mid-East oil. Now over a quarter century later, the situation is no better; many would say worse.

It's not that America doesn't have a LOT of petroleum. The problem is that we can't get to it.

Why? Because radical and very powerful environmentalists have our Congressmen and Senators scared to death of being branded polluters.

They have persuaded Congress to prevent exploration and production on most of the outer continental shelf, and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, more commonly referred to as AN-WAR. We could still work on alternative fuel sources while tapping these areas that may well contain reserves as huge as Prudhoe Bay, which in the early '90s, produced almost 25 percent of all U.S. Oil.

Experts say there may well be a trillion barrels of oil trapped in shale in a field that runs from the lower mid-west into Canada. Can't touch that either.

We could go on about the hand wringing by the same groups over the Alaska pipeline, which they said would destroy the caribou. Well, the pipeline is warm in winter, and decades later, the caribou are more numerous than ever.

No one wants a polluted planet, but our leaders have allowed a tiny minority to add to what we all see is a huge problem, greatly of our own making.

It is time, frankly, for Capital Hill to man up and pay less attention to lobbyists and more attention to truckers on the verge of bankruptcy and families struggling to fill up the mini-van.

Let us know what you think.

Email Jim Cameron at jcameron@wdam.com