Walter E. Williams

Controlling the price of anything is very difficult and it can only be accomplished through the force of government, mostly by restricting supply. The U.S. Congress is a major player in oil supply restriction, and OPEC nations must be laughing all the way to the bank. Congress has banned energy exploration in 85 percent of our coastal waters. Ironically, China, in conjunction with Cuba, is drilling for oil nearer to our coastline than U.S. oil companies are permitted. According to "We don't have to take $4 gas prices -- we can drill," written by Sterling Burnett in the Houston Chronicle (5/21/08), "It is estimated that beneath America's coast lies enough oil to fuel 60 million cars in the United States for 60 years and enough natural gas to heat 60 million homes for 160 years. … If allowed access to American oil reserves in Alaska and off our coastline, American oil companies could increase our country's reserves an estimated fivefold, taking the United States from 11th place to fourth among the countries with proven oil reserves."

You say, "What about the environmental impact?" Contrary to the hysterical claims made by environmental extremists, caribou and other wildlife have expanded and flourished in and around Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, unaffected by the oil and gas development. What's more, Burnett points out that the "two leading environmental groups, the Audubon Society and the Nature Conservancy, have allowed oil and gas production on several of their most important and unique nature preserves."

Environmentalists come to their senses when non-drilling philosophy costs them something. It's two-faced hypocrisy. At times I've suggested that the best way to get oil exploration in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve is to give the land to environmentalists. You can bet they wouldn't sit on billions of dollars of oil and gas.

The true villain in our having to cough up $60, $70 or $80 to fill our gas tanks is the U.S. Congress caught in the grip of environmental extremists. But if reality is too difficult to swallow, we can continue to blame and support the congressional attack on oil executives, turn food into oil and think of other crackpot "solutions."


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Walter Williams' column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.