Saturday, June 14, 2008

Gas Prices . . .

. . . a brief commentary.

Why are gas prices so high in the U.S.? Obviously, there are several reasons - speculation, high demand in India and China and gas-eating vehicles (urk . . . I own one).

Generally being a capitalist, and not a socialist, I don't buy the nasty old big oil is getting in our shorts argument. Anyone who has an inkling of knowledge about corporate profit margins (that's MARGINS, not total profits) shouldn't buy it either. However, with our generally liberal, anti big enterprise media (who are, in fact, themselves big enterprises) feeding those flames, I understand why it is otherwise.

In my opinion, the most significant reason for the shortage is that one political party promotes conservation as the ONLY option, while the other is willing to embrace both conservation AND expansion of resources.

We cannot survive this mess without a) lowering consumption and b) increasing OUR OWN supplies. We need vehicles that get better mileage - an approach that the U.S. has put off too long. Unfortunately, we have waited too long, and our fleet is too large for an instant change-over.

To augment our position while we convert to better vehicles, we also need more exploration, more drilling, more refining capacity and more nuclear facilities. Not that we will have nuke-powered automobiles, but nukes will take coal, oil and natural gas-fired power plants off line.

As I said in an earlier rant: "Even the FRENCH use nuclear power, for Gawd's sake."

Some surprising statistics:

- There are estimated to be 86 billion barrels of oil in the U. S. outer continental shelf. That's equal to about 30% of the total reserves in Saudi Arabia. The U.S. Government won't allow drilling there - although China and Cuba are drilling just outside our territorial limits.

- The oil-shale fields in the U.S. contain an estimated 1.5 trillion barrels of oil. That's five times the reserves in Saudi Arabia. There are some technology problems with processing, but the U.S. Government won't allow recovery there.

One of our political parties is promoting this approach. One is still hung up on the conservation uber-alles mantra.

To determine who may help us out of this hole, and who may not, I offer the following voting record without further comment.

ANWR Exploration
House Republicans: 91% Supported
House Democrats: 86% Opposed

House Republicans: 97% Supported
House Democrats: 78% Opposed

Oil Shale Exploration
House Republicans: 90% Supported
House Democrats: 86% Opposed

Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Exploration
House Republicans: 81% Supported
House Democrats: 83% Opposed

Refinery Increased Capacity
House Republicans: 97% Supported
House Democrats: 96% Opposed
Purple Haze . . .

. . . all in my eyes. Don't know if it's day or night

Well, not exactly purple. More of a smoky gray. For those of you not following the news, while the midwest is flooding, North Carolina is burning. At least 1,000 acres of the Great Dismal Swamp has been consumed by a wildfire over the last week, and the smoke is wafting through Hampton Roads. The entire area smells like a campfire . . . set inside the tent.

In the long run, this type of fire is supposed to be good for the swamp, which is also designated as a National Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately, it is not very good for those of us who must continue to breathe regularly.

On a sadder note, one of our resident ducks apparently has been injured. We have several ducks show up every day looking for handouts. This female has lost a major part of her upper bill. She struggles to eat the bread and other goodies we leave out for her. I don't have much hope for her survival.