FOR THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
While driving to the Post Office the other day I drove past where I normally fill my car with gasoline. They were changing the price-of-gas sign, and yes, it was going up again. When I returned home I walked out to our detached garage.
Inside I took a look at the two bicycles. There was a male bike and a female bike. They look good except the tires were flat and probably dry rotted. The chains needed oiling or perhaps replacing. Then, they should be in top condition. Good idea to save gas, right?
Only thing I haven't ridden a bicycle since maybe when I was 15 years old and that's more years than I intend to write about. They say once you've learned to ride a bicycle you'll never forget how and all you have to do is jump on and pedal. Maybe, but with my luck, I'd fall and break something and it would cost more than 500 gallons of gas to fix me back up, plus, I'm allergic to pain.
All this caused me to really think about this gas price run away we're experiencing. Why is it happening and why isn't something being done about it? First it might be a good idea to look back at what our Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu said recently. He said, "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe" (which are routinely above $8 per gallon).
This reasoning is supposed to based on the idea that we're rapidly running out of oil supplies and we need to get gas prices high enough that we'll all have to be converted to driving vehicles that are no larger than oversized golf carts. With the new discoveries of oil reserves in North Dakota and what we know we have in vast barren areas in Alaska we shouldn't be wringing our hands about replacing our cars with bicycles or golf cart-size cars.
Actually it's a political game. The extreme environmentalist (who are big supporters of the President) demand that we leave these areas alone even though it has been proven that we have the technologies (and have used them) to utilize these resources without environmental harm. But, in an election year, a politician doesn't want to go against a strong, and needed, political base.
So far the administration has delayed drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico and in areas of Alaska. The President also refuses to advance the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries. He is making statements about supporting another pipeline, but on this one he has no say so whatsoever.
The state of North Dakota has released a report, which estimates there are 2.1 billion barrels of oil that could be recovered in the Bakken area, and other estimates put the figure at between 18 billion and 24 billion barrels of oil.
With all of this oil available we should start the process to utilize this natural resource and this very act should cause gasoline prices to move downward. When the Middle East sees us beginning to increase our own supplies of oil they will lower theirs in hopes that this would stop or slow down our movement in this area.
If that happens we certainly shouldn't slow down our goal of becoming oil energy efficient. Al Gore said some years ago that the government should work to artificially raise gas prices to $5.00 a gallon and now we have Steven Chu saying they should go up to $8 a gallon.
Obama says, "We should try to develop wind and solar power, biofuels etc." And he's right about this, but this is going to take a good while to accomplish and utilizing our natural resources now will give us more time to develop wind, solar power and biofuels for future use.
Oh well, should I fix up the bicycles or not? That is the question. I think I'll ponder it a while.
(Bob Harper is a Tarboro resident who writes a column of general interest.)