Bud Weinstein

Recently on the campaign trail Republican Presidential Candidate, Sen. John McCain promoted lifting the federal ban on offshore drilling. Florida’s Governor Charlie Crist endorsed McCain’s plan as a way to reduce high energy prices. We need to listen to McCain and Crist. It’s time to stop beating up on “big oil” and begging OPEC to further open the spigot. We need to craft “market-based” domestic energy policies that stimulate, rather than stifle, new production of oil and gas. Conservation and alternative fuels have their place, but they can’t constitute the core of a comprehensive U.S. energy development strategy. Biofuels, wind generators and solar panels comprise less than two percent of global energy production and only about one percent in the U.S.

Despite what we often read and hear, America’s businesses and households are not energy hogs. In fact, we have one of the most energy efficient economies in the world, utilizing fewer than half the BTUs per dollar of output than was the case thirty years ago.

The good news is that the American public may be savvier than our politicians. A recent Gallup poll found that only 20 percent of those surveyed blamed oil company profiteering for $4-a-gallon gasoline. Instead, respondents cited our overdependence on foreign oil, the shrinking dollar, and commodity futures speculation as the principal factors for the latest energy crisis.

We can’t produce more domestic energy by bashing the oil and gas industry and keeping our most promising new sources off limits. It’s time for both parties, and both presidential candidates, to acknowledge that America’s energy industry isn’t the problem. It’s the solution.

Bud Weinstein

Bernard L. Weinstein is director of the Center for Economic Development and Research and a professor of applied economics at the University of North Texas in Denton.
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