Sunday, May 29, 2011

Reducing our Dependency on Foreign Oil


You may feel this is a stretch. How can I link our dependency on foreign oil with duck hunting? The truth is that everything we do today is tied to the use of oil. This means that the price of oil affects every aspect of our lives. When the price of crude oil spikes like it has in recent weeks, it drives the price of everything up. If you haven’t noticed this means more than the price of gas and shotgun shells, but also more important things, like groceries. If you do not have a family this may not mean much to you, but as a father of two, this has a great impact on the amount of disposable income I have to spend on things like hunting and fishing..

America currently produces roughly one third of the crude oil we consume on a daily basis. America consumes more oil than any other nation. For a long time no other nation had the power to compete with the United States for the purchase of oil. Now as the Chinese economy grows, and they develop more infrastructure, they need more oil, and they have the money to buy it. The increased demand for oil on the world market has driven the price of crude oil up. Since America has to compete on the world market for two thirds of the oil we need we are forced to pay the higher prices the world market demands.

There are those who argue that at the same time as the increase of demand in the world market, the oil producing nations are intentionally restricting the production of crude oil to increase the price of crude oil. There are other who argue that the price of oil is increasing because peak oil production was reached between 2005 and 2006. Geologists point to the fact that Saudi Arabia is pumping millions of gallons of sea water into their wells, to be able to extract the remaining oil, as proof that the Saudis are already pumping the maximum amount of oil possible out of their wells. If these Geologists are right, it means that the earth’s reserves of oil are diminished to the point that all of the easy oil is gone. This means that the amount of oil removed from the earth each year will continue to decrease.

As a current consumer, it really doesn’t matter to me who is right. I am paying a higher price for gas and groceries, and nearly everything else I purchase, either way. Most consumers feel trapped. They have to buy gas, at least enough to get to and from work and take care of the other necessities of life. They have to buy groceries. But you need to remember that you are a consumer. As a consumer the choices you make today will help determine the future.

There are American oil fields that have yet to be tapped to their full potential. Environmentalists may not like what I have to say, but our society will not change overnight. We have to improve our current status or there will be no future to save. As consumers we can encourage drilling for American oil by purchasing from companies that buy American Crude. I once saw a list of companies that sell American gas. I forgot all but one, Murphy USA, because none of them sell gas in my area. I remembered Murphy USA because they have a lot of stations in Wal-Mart parking lots. I have the opportunity to buy gas from them from time to time.

Even though I seldom have the opportunity to buy American gas, the choices I make about where to buy gas still matter. Even if they are small, my purchases make an impact. I don’t buy gas from companies that get crude from Venezuela, I refuse to support a dictator that hates the United States. I also refuse to buy gas from the largest gas company, with their profit margins up 69% over the last 3 months, I feel like they don’t need any of my money. So be mindful of where your money goes. Try not to buy gas that comes from the worst places. Buy American gas if at all possible, this will encourage drilling for American oil and help reduce the stranglehold foreign oil has on us.

Environmentalists may not like it when I say that we need to drill for more American oil, but hopefully they will like my next couple points. Change may not come quick to our society, but change must come. The easiest way to decrease our need for foreign oil is to decrease our need for oil. If you look on American roads today cars and truck are larger than they have ever been. Auto makers make what consumers want. If you are like me you won’t be buying a car or truck any time soon. But if you are in the market for a new car or truck, think about fuel efficiency. The less gas you have to buy, the more money you will have to spend on other things.

Americans need to embrace alternative energy sources as well. We need to properly maintain the hydro-electric systems we have, and build more where it is possible. We need to look at building more wind and solar generation plants as well.

Now wait a minute. This guy has flip-flopped from gas to energy consumption, what is he thinking? Well, I’m thinking that most of our current electricity is generated in coal fired plants. Now, while I personally have nothing against coal fired electric power plants, diesel powered machines are used to mine and transport the coal. So, when you reduce the need for coal fired generation plants, you reduce the need for foreign oil.

There are lots of things that we really need to sit back and evaluate as consumers. There are lots of changes that we can encourage through the power of purchase. I have only touched on a couple. If you can think of others please feel free to share them through the comments section.

It’s really a sad state that we find ourselves in. There are so many issues that we must involve ourselves in. It takes away from the time we have to do what we want to do. But if we don’t take the time to take care of these problems now, if we don’t find solutions to America’s economic ills now, our children may not be able to do the things they want to do in the future.


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