According to government estimates, there is enough oil in areas accessible to America - 112 billion barrels - to power more than 60 million cars for 60 years. The Outer Continental Shelf alone contains an estimated 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Had President Clinton not vetoed exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in 1995, when oil was $19 a barrel, America would currently be receiving more than 1 million barrels a day domestically, all of it taken by better technology than existed more than 30 years ago. That was when the Alaskan pipeline was built despite protests from environmentalists who claimed it would destroy the caribou. It didn't, but the environmentalists are back with the same discredited arguments. Because most of the oil remains "off-limits," we are becoming more dependent on foreign oil.
No, we can't "drill our way out" of our addiction to oil, but we can make the transition to other energy sources easier while lessening our dependence on foreign oil and propping up dictators who use our money to subsidize terrorists. A slow transition will also give us time to consider more fuel-efficient cars and greater use of public transportation, even bicycles for short trips. Bikes would help more of us lose weight and get in shape. A friend bikes to work every day, saving gas, car payments, insurance and repair costs.
The specter of a president of the United States going hat-in-hand to Saudi Arabia to plead for more (and more expensive) oil from the dictatorship that underwrites an extreme form of Islam that is out to kill us is obscene. President Bush ought to be rallying Americans, not embracing people who don't allow women to drive cars.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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