Energy: Russia’s invasion of neighboring Georgia has revealed the West’s major weakness: Our dependence on questionable governments around the world for oil, the very lifeblood of our prosperity. So what do we do?
Rather than shrugging, as Congress’ defeatist Democrats would have us do, or groveling, as much of Western Europe seems content to do, America should seize its energy future now — by opening drilling not just in a few selected areas off our coasts, but everywhere there might be oil.
Offshore, onshore, in the Arctic, in the Caribbean, in the oil-rich waters off California, deep in the mountain shale deposits of the Far West — wherever oil is, we should be getting it out.
We owe it to future generations to ensure an adequate supply of energy to maintain our way of life and standard of living. But this is about much more than having affordable fuel to power our cars, factories and businesses. It’s also about national security.
Russia’s rampage in Georgia was calculated to intimidate the former Soviet slave states of Eastern Europe. But Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also wants to control Georgia’s Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline — the main conduit from the oil-rich Caspian Sea to Europe. That would give him a chokehold on 25% of Europe’s energy supply — and veto power over EU diplomacy.
As part of this geopolitical strategy, Putin is also forging new alliances in the Mideast, ranging from this week’s deal with Iraq to build power plants, to a military accord for arms, energy and a possible Russian military base for Syria.
All this is on top of Russia’s continued technical and financial aid to Iran’s burgeoning nuclear weapons program.
In our own hemisphere, Putin is reviving Russia’s long-dormant relationship with Cuba and selling advanced planes and weapons to socialist dictator Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, a major oil supplier.
This is a plain attempt to resurrect the old USSR strategy of stirring up trouble around the world, encircling the U.S. and its allies with enemies, then daring us to stop it. Only today, they have energy as a weapon.
One premise of the new Putin Doctrine is that oil prices will stay high and that Russia, with its plentiful reserves, can use oil profits to fund its global ambitions.
This is where Congress comes in. Since President Clinton refused to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in 1995, Democrats have stood in the way of any rational energy plan. Today, we pump just 25% of our oil; 40 years ago, it was 60%. We send about $900 billion a year overseas to buy oil, money that helps fund Russian and radical Islamic mischief. This is a problem.
Now for the good news: The U.S. is the world’s largest potential oil supplier — with as much oil, the Institute for Energy Research says, as has been used by the entire world over the last 150 years.
Just offshore, we have 86 billion barrels of crude. The U.S. Arctic region, including Alaska, holds 30 billion barrels. In the Far West, we have more than 800 billion barrels of shale oil.
In a mere 44 days, the U.S. moratorium on offshore drilling will expire. Congress should let this happen. It should also open up ANWR and the rest of Alaska to drilling and exploration. And while we’re at it, let’s get moving on oil shale and nuclear power.
Congressional Democrats get furious when they’re accused of lacking patriotism. Fair enough. Want to be patriots? Help America make use of its abundant energy by drilling for more.
By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, August 21, 2008 4:20 PM PT