How often have we all heard that the number one solution to America’s energy woes is to drill for more oil, to open up all our government-owned land (including parks and wildernesses and environmentally sensitive areas) to drilling? Well, check out this little note from USA Today:
The U.S. exported more oil-based fuels than it imported in the first nine months of this year, making it likely that 2011 will be the first time since 1949 that the nation is a net exporter of such goods, primarily diesel. That’s not all. The U.S. has reversed another decades-long trend. It began producing more crude oil in 2008 than the year before and accelerated that upswing 3% in the first nine months of this year compared with the same period in 2010. That production has helped reduce U.S. imports of crude oil by about 10% since 2006. “It’s dramatic. It’s transformative,” Edward Morse, a former senior U.S. energy official who now directs global commodities research at Citigroup, says of the historic shifts. He says the U.S. is importing a smaller share – 49% in 2010, down from 60% in 2005 – of the oil it uses, adding: “We’re moving toward energy independence.”
Wow! Sounds really good for America, doesn’t it? We’re now a net oil exporter rather than a net oil importer, and that’s a good thing, since it makes us less independent on oil from the Middle East and we’re obviously moving towards energy independence, right? Right?
From the Associated Press:
For the first time, the top export of the United States, the world’s biggest gas guzzler, is – wait for it – fuel. Measured in dollars, the nation is on pace this year to ship more gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel than any other single export, according to U.S. Census data going back to 1990. It will also be the first year in more than 60 that America has been a net exporter of these fuels. Just how big of a shift is this? A decade ago, fuel wasn’t even among the top 25 exports. And for the last five years, America’s top export was aircraft.
Now can anyone tell me exactly how “drill baby drill” is going to give us energy independence when our biggest export is oil? And this is not something the government can fix, because the government cannot tell Big Oil that they have to sell enough oil stateside to provide for all America’s fuel needs before they can export any oil. Our government and the world market is simply not set up that way, which means that it doesn’t matter how much oil is drilled in American territory, Big Oil will export the oil if they can get more for it overseas before they will even consider America’s energy needs. So much for the ‘patriotism’ of Big Oil.
And to reinforce the point, the second reference above also had this to say:
There’s at least one domestic downside to America’s growing role as a fuel exporter. Experts say the trend helps explain why U.S. motorists are paying more for gasoline. The more fuel that’s sent overseas, the less of a supply cushion there is at home. Gasoline supplies are being exported to the highest bidder, says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service. “It’s a world market,” he says. Refining companies won’t say how much they make by selling fuel overseas. But analysts say those sales are likely generating higher profits per gallon than they would have generated in the U.S. Otherwise, they wouldn’t occur.
Since we are now a net energy exporter, America could be energy independent today. Our gas prices could fall today. Our prices in the grocery stores and the malls could fall today. Maybe Michelle Bachmann was right that we could have $2.00 gasoline once more, but even if she’d been elected in a landslide, she could never have made that happen. Why? Again, our government does not have that kind of authority over the market, and our domestic and global markets are simply not set up that way.
So the big lie is exposed. Drilling our way to energy independence was a pipe dream, a grand scale fantasy, just as we liberals always said it was. The only way to gain true energy independence for America is through alternative energy and increased efficiency.