Take a Peek at the Peak

Over the past two months, rising gas prices have fueled a heated debate. And, if you think the debate is raging now, just wait for the winter months to hit consumers.

Between home heating costs and gas prices, it’s not going to be pretty.

As the debate rages on, the most frequently asked questions by public officials and the press seem to be the following.

  • Should we drill more on the outer continental shelf?
  • Should we open the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for drilling? (Proponents like to call it “exploration,” but this isn’t an ad campaign, so I’m going to stick with “drilling”).
  • Why didn’t Congress dramatically raise the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards ten, fifteen, or even twenty years ago?

None of these questions is terribly productive. Sure, pondering the historical roadblocks to increasing CAFE standards is instructive. But it really doesn’t do much for future planning around our country’s energy problem.

It’s like we’re stuck in the energy twilight zone, waiting for the inevitably macabre ending. Instead of more shortsightedness and attempts at political point scoring, the real questions we should be asking include:

  • When will we get about the business of moving toward a new energy economy, featuring the greatly enhanced use of renewable sources of energy like wind, solar, biomass and geothermal?
  • How can we mobilize a workforce, with proper training, to prepare for the inevitable transition?
  • How soon can we institute a true carbon auction at the federal level, using the proceeds to both help consumers and spurn research and development?

We simply have to stop the narrow fossil fuel supply discussion. A recent Washington Post article outlines the stark reality of world fossil fuel supply.

Here’s the money line.

The United States is at the leading edge of what may lie ahead for worldwide oil production. Global petroleum output is still rising, but the rate of growth is slowing. Supply is not increasing fast enough to keep up with soaring global demand, putting ever more upward pressure on oil prices.

There it is, supply will never again keep up with demand. So, let’s cut the nonsense.

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