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June 24, 2008

On the Right Side: Bush's plans to fix crisis make sense


— My last column took Big Oil off the list of those possible groups responsible for the present oil crisis. Excessive profits made by them is simply propaganda spewed by the liberal Democrat leadership.

The facts (yes, liberals, an inconvenient truth) show that their return on investment is right in line with or less than that of other industries.

In fact, between federal, state and local governments, the revenues produced for them exceed the net profits of the oil companies several times over. The liberal Dems certainly don't see this return as excessive and have no intention of reducing these taxes. Remember, they did absolutely nothing for these dollars.

So now the Democrats and their special-interest lobbyists turn to the president and claim he is also the problem. They claim he has no energy plan. What are they, deaf as well as dumb? Since 2003, he has repeatedly brought sound plans before Congress, and these were voted down every time.

His plans make total sense. No. 1, he wanted to build refineries at former military bases. Because of our lack of refineries, we have to import refined product that costs twice as much as if it were refined domestically.

No. 2, he proposed lifting the present ban on leasing federal lands and offshore drilling sites where abundant supplies exist.

The Democrats refuse to allow this, claiming the danger of oil spills and negative environmental impact. Valid, except there hasn't been a major oil spill since 1969.

Also, there are thousands of oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and hundreds were either destroyed or severely damaged during the 2005 hurricane season that included Hurricane Katrina.

Guess what? No oil spills. Stop living in the '60s, Dems. There have been very impressive gains made in extraction technologies and safety measures.

A February 2006 study done by the Interior Department's Mineral Management Service estimated potential offshore resources of approximately 85.9 billion barrels and 419.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Also, the Bureau of Land Management estimated between 18 billion and 53 billion barrels of onshore resources. While on the topic of onshore resources, has anyone questioned the "pristine" area of ANWR?

You can be certain that there have been no congressional fact-finding trips to the area. They prefer the warmer climes when they take their families away.

You can also assume that fewer than 1 percent of the environmental loudmouths have been there, either. No one goes there. In the summer, there are constant plagues of mosquitoes and other filthy pests, and as one columnist pointed out, during the winter "it reached 70 degrees below zero (not counting wind chill, which brings it to 120 below) and is in round-the-clock darkness."

There are approximately 20 million acres making up the ANWR region (which I'm sure 90 percent of environmentalists couldn't find on a map if unlabeled), and we are talking about a drilling footprint of an area 1/7th the area of Manhattan.

Third, Bush has proposed that the Department of Energy reduce the length of time and the risks involved in the licensing process associated with the development of new nuclear power plants. Potential investors are scared away by the length of time involved, upward of 20 years, due to repeated fake environmental studies and frivolous lawsuits. Finally, the last major proposal is to remove the prohibitions for oil shale exploration on federal lands. In a 2005 Rand study, it was estimated there existed up to 800 billion barrels of oil in the Green River Formation covering areas including Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

All very practical solutions to use while we are developing alternative energy sources and conserving. Let's let American ingenuity and entrepreneurial activity solve the problem while we are pumping. We are second to none in these areas.

The typical liberal response? It will take years to develop these resources. Five years ago, when Bush started pointing out the potential problem, gas was $1.43 a gallon. We would have been well on our way if we acted then. As a matter of fact, we would already be processing 1 to 2 million barrels per day if Clinton hadn't vetoed a congressional bill opening up federal lands for exploration and development. Oil was $19 a barrel back then.

Another problem, libs. A Gallup poll showed more than 60 percent of people favored drilling in currently restricted areas. This percent will surely rise over the next few months. So even if you don't care about American families, the U.S. economy and national security, vote drilling through even if only for shallow political reasons.

Once again, I'm out of room for this column. The next column will point out the real culprits causing all this pain for normal, average, hard-working families. I'm really looking forward to this.

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Tom Sears is a professor of accounting at Hartwick College in Oneonta. He can be reached at SearsT@hartwick.edu. His column appears every other week.