When is Rep. John Spratt going to lower our pain at the pump?
This question may appear shallow on its surface, causing one to ask, "What an idiot! Can a U.S. congressman from South Carolina actually affect the price of gas?" The answer is, well, yes!
The American people are speaking but I have my doubts about whether or not the Democratic leaders are listening.
As of this writing, over 1.1 million frustrated, struggling Americans of all political shapes and sizes have signed a "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" petition at AmericanSolutions.com, calling on Congress to allow environmentally responsible production of more energy here, at home. Almost 100,000 signed up in a single day!
Depending on which poll you look at (Rasmussen, Zogby, or American Solutions), the numbers are showing that anywhere from 67 percent to 81 percent of Americans support offshore drilling and a more domestic source of energy, including oil and coal. Zogby also found that 59 percent of Americans support drilling in Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve. Does that sound like a majority to you?
Back to Rep. Spratt. A total of 171 members of Congress have signed a pledge circulating Congress by Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R.-Ga.) to increase U.S. oil production. Only one is a Democrat, and it isn't John Spratt.
Perhaps some Democrats have been reluctant to sign on because of two popular talking points making the rounds.
The time factor
These opponents say that oil and gas companies already hold 68 million acres of federal land (offshore and land combined) that they are not using to produce oil and gas. They also say it would take 10 years before any of that oil makes it into our gas tanks. You have no doubt heard the now-ubiquitous phrase, "We can't drill our way out of this."
There are a number of problems with these arguments.
First, when federal waters or lands are leased to energy companies, the first step is to explore for oil -- in other words, look for it. Most of the acres leased for oil end up being determined to not hold enough oil or gas to make it profitable for energy companies to actually extract it. So the vast majority of those 68 million acres are not being used for a simple reason: They're currently unusable.
Given this fact, it's obvious that citing the amount of currently unused leased land is a ruse. It allows opponents of using American oil to seem as if they actually support it, when in truth they only support more drilling in areas where there is not enough oil to make it worthwhile to drill. In other words, they actually don't support using our American oil to lower gas prices.
Make it a priority
Lastly, even if we were to accept the estimate of 10 years to get American oil into our gas tank (if America made it a priority to quickly extract our oil I'm confident we could find a way to speed up the process), there is good reason to believe the short-term effect on oil prices would be significant.
While estimates range on the degree to which oil futures trading is affecting the price of oil, there is broad consensus that it is playing a role. The very act of opening America's vast oil deposits for extraction would send an immediate signal to speculators that supply will be increased, and that betting on higher prices for oil is no longer a safe investment. Prices will fall as a result.
Also, beginning the process of drilling for our American oil would allow us the freedom to empty part of the strategic oil reserve into the market on the promise it will be replenished by these future American sources. This immediate increase in the supply of oil would cause a decrease in price.
Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, if our leaders aren't listening to the clear, expressed will of the people then we have it in our power to change this.
Let us declare our energy independence. Rep. Spratt, we appreciate your representation of our area; on this issue, take action to drill here and drill now -- for American oil, for the American people.
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