Fossil fuels might be finite, but, at this point in the development of the United States, they're indispensable. Support for private research and development of alternative energy sources makes sense, then, but outright opposition to fossil fuels -- especially now, when new methods of extraction and energy-efficient products promise to extend the life of limited resources -- is implausible. Voluntarily limit production? Intentionally drive prices higher, unintentionally testing the limits of the American family household budget? Why?
As Sen. James Inhofe said in a recent interview with OCPA, "You can't run this machine called America without fossil fuels." Maybe, Inhofe suggests, it's time we stopped trying to do just that and took advantage of our incredible mineral assets instead.
"When you stop and think that here we have in America the largest recoverable reserves of any country in the world and yet we have a policy in Washington to be the only country in the world that doesn't export its reserves, it's unthinkable," Inhofe said. "We are creating a shortage that we don't have to create."
Just how much recoverable energy -- particularly oil -- the United States has "in reserve" has been a matter of contention. According to a report from the Congressional Research Service, though, Inhofe is right: The U.S. ranks No. 1 in recoverable energy. Unfortunately, excessive government regulation renders much of that energy inaccessible. The U.S. is sitting on 1.442 trillion barrels of recoverable oil, for example, but "you can take a trillion off the top because the Secretary of the Interior has not followed the law passed by Congress to lease this vacant land owned by the government for energy development," says Dan Kish, senior vice president at the Institute for Energy Research.
Meanwhile, "Oklahoma does its part," Inhofe says. Home to four Fortune 500 energy companies, the Sooner State is not shy about developing its natural resources. As of June 24, Oklahoma boasted 190 drilling rigs, up from 176 in June of 2011. Oklahomans are still breathing clean air and drinking clean water. Time for a more sensible energy policy in this country? We think so.