Obama drops the ball on energy – Black on Black Thought
This is part of the bi-weekly Black on Black Thought feature.
What’s up fam,
I am responding to James’ article this week where he lauds Obama’s recent policy reversal on supporting off-shore drilling, essentially claiming that when it comes to comprehensive energy policy reform, there is no magic bullet and we need to embrace all solutions and not the solution. And Obama gave red meat to conservatives by explaining that he would support offshore drilling as part of an overall package in part because “we shouldn’t allow the Perfect to be the enemy of the Good.”
While rhetorically this is brilliant, it shows a lack of Obama’s judgment and here’s why; offshore drilling is a bad idea, not a good idea. As the Boston Globe points out,
It would take at least a decade for oil companies to obtain permits, procure equipment, and do the exploration necessary to get the oil out of the ground, most industry analysts say. And even then, they add, the amount of new oil produced would probably be too small to significantly affect world oil prices.
Now I know that Obama has taken a pounding as his pollsters are probably telling him that “The American people want you to do something about the gas prices and if you maintain your opposition to offshore drilling, you will be seen as out of touch, and we don’t want the uppity thing to stick.”
But just think back to when Obama bucked conventional thought and opposed the gas tax holiday that was supported by John McCain AND Hillary Clinton. In the end, the voters applauded Obama’s principled stance and saw McCain’s stance for what it was, a gimmick. Offshore drilling is no different; it is a gimmick used by conservatives stay wedded to an oil-based economy when we need to move towards a green and renewable economy. Moreover, when you focus the debate solely on supply, you never have to talk about the big elephant in the room, reducing demand. Obama missed an opportunity to do what is right and show that he is willing to do what is right, even when the polls say it is wrong.
The other problem I have with the media and the American people is this unspoken myth that if we do drill for oil, then whatever oil is produced would solely go to alleviate the pain for Americans who quite frankly pay a lot less for gas than most industrialized countries. This myth is rooted in the idea that American oil companies are first and always American and would be willing to solve America’s energy problems if we just give them unfettered access to drill anywhere and tax-breaks of course. Here is a secret, corporations salute profit, not the American flag and there is no better illustration of this than the all-American Halliburton moving their world headquarters from Houston, TX to Dubai.
It seems like conservatives will not be willing to pass any comprehensive energy plan if offshore drilling is not included as part of the package. For me, the things that conservatives are willing to go to the mat for (not having any debate on energy unless we open up offshore drilling) often fall in line what is best for corporations, not the American people.
James wrote that solutions like corn-based ethanol “wouldn’t be so much of a problem if it were free-market and not mandatory.” This myth of the free-market is not based in reality. The same way that the government bailed out Bear Stearns using tax-payer dollars, is the same way the government would be bolstering oil companies who have been enjoying the highest profits in history.
The other problem that I have is that supply-side economics is an inadequate strategy. It seems that at the rate we are going, we as Americans are willing to maintain ridiculous amounts of gas consumption while frowning on the increase in demand from people in China and India. I want liberals and conservatives to not just talk about renewable energy but find ways to encourage people to reduce demand.
Conservatives will say that the high price of gas is incentive enough to get people to drive less and I disagree. How good can the effectiveness of higher gas prices be when you don’t have a reliable and efficient alternative in the form of a comprehensive mass transit system?
Stay up fam,