Meanwhile, he’s hinted that he may want to delay exploration indefinitely. “The Bush administration was so intent on opening new areas for oil and gas offshore that it torpedoed offshore renewable energy efforts,” he’s said, ignoring at least one offshore wind project Bush promoted. Besides, electric wind farms are completely different from oil fields, as Salazar must know.
It takes years to develop an oil field, which is why we should get started this year, while prices are still low. Salazar’s own Interior Department estimates there are 19 billion barrels of oil available in U.S. waters, and such estimates tend to be on the low side. But we won’t know until we start looking.
This isn’t the first time Salazar has opposed exploration, by the way. Last summer, when the Bush administration wanted to sell some public land in Western states so oil companies could take a closer look at harvesting fuel from oil shale, Salazar disliked the program.
“A fire sale will not lower gas prices. It will not accelerate the development of commercial oil shale technologies,” he wrote in The Washington Post. Again, true as far as it goes. But without exploration, we’ll never know if oil shale can be made to work.
Our country needs more oil exploration, as quickly as is prudent. Otherwise, prepare for the eventual return of $4 or higher gasoline.