The anti-modernity, anti-drilling environmentalists seem to have latched onto two basic strategies in opposing more domestic drilling and innovative energy exploration at home. First is to blame speculators for all of our problems. The other is that additional drilling won’t bring oil and gas prices down and therefore won’t solve our problems. Laura Sanchez makes the latter argument in the Alibi.
Not surprisingly, we at the Rio Grande Foundation disagree strongly that drilling won’t improve our situation. In a letter to the editor I make the following arguments:
Although I disagree with her ultimate point (opposition to drilling), Laura Sanchez makes some good points in her article. Indeed, the days of $1 and perhaps even $2 gas may be over in the United States. As she points out, no amount of drilling, whether here in New Mexico, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or offshore is going to return us to the “good old days” of cheap gas.
Freer markets in China and India have raised living standards for literally billions of people. While we should celebrate this, it is also true that China adds 1,000 new cars to its roads every day.
Oil is a finite resource. Energy independence is a pipe dream, but if we don’t drill here our economy (most particularly, the poor and low-income for whom filling the tank is a larger portion of their family budget) will suffer and prices will continue to spiral upward. Economic progressives should be especially sensitive to this fact.
We also must realize two additional facts: 1) Every source of energy, including politically correct solar and wind, has its drawbacks; 2) Prices will create efficiency and spur innovation.
Energy policy, like most factors in a multitrillion-dollar economy, makes a difference on the margins and over time as adjustments are made. High prices will spur conservation; we should not stand in the way of efforts to increase supply as well.