But the mother lode is in shale rock. It's estimated that the Saudis have about 260 billion barrels under their sand. By comparison, with current technology, we can safely recover more than 800 billion barrels of the estimated 7 trillion barrels of oil in the shale rock from the Rocky Mountains. That means that current technology could give us more than three times the entire national resources of oil-rich Saudi Arabia.
Extracting oil from shale rock only recently has become economically feasible. It costs about $70 per barrel to extract and make the oil usable. When oil was $18 a barrel that would have been crazy. But at $138 a barrel, it's a bargain. And American companies can make money by supplying our nation's need, and lowering costs for all of us in the process.
Speaking of profits, don't buy into this tax-the-company mentality. If people want to criticize how much oil executives are paid, that's one thing. But the profits go to you and me. Almost two-thirds of oil-company stock is owned by mutual funds and pension funds. That means taxing those profits would decrease the return on your 401k or IRA. And most of those pension funds serve union members. So taxing those profits would hurt middle- and working-class Americans. That's unacceptable.
We need to find more domestic oil and get it. We need more refining. And we need to aggressively expand alternative energy while we build dozens of next-generation nuclear reactors. Finally, we need to create new models of cars that use no petroleum fuels at all. We need to do all these things starting now. Energy is a major issue, and could decide this fall's presidential election.