Big oil lies shallow beneath the surface in our nation. All this summer, right wing politicians demanded that the government remove restrictions for offshore drilling. They said that restrictions setting aside certain ecologically important areas were to blame for high gasoline prices.
The math didn’t add up. Even if all the possible drilling along the shorelines of the USA had been taking place this summer, that extra oil would only have reduced the price of gasoline by a few cents. Restrictions on offshore drilling and high gasoline prices were causally unrelated, but that didn’t matter to the politicians in the pocket of Big Oil. They just came up with a slogan. drill, baby, drill, as if that slogan made the facts go away.
Now, just a few weeks after Democrats in Congress caved in and agreed to remove restrictions on offshore oil drilling, the government has announced that the price of a barrel of oil has gone down by over one-third in price from its height this year. Why the sudden reduction? With the vote to give oil companies the freedom to drill at pleasure taken care of, the Bush Administration now freely admits that the price of oil has gone down because of reduced consumption.
The price of oil has gone back down by over 50 dollars per barrel just because Americans have decided not to burn so much of it. Simple energy conservation all along had this power to bring gasoline prices and related costs, such as the price of food, back under control. Offshore drilling never could have accomplished this.
Yet, instead of encouraging conservation, the right wing stampeded Washington into encouraging oil drilling.
What might have been different if Americans had been organized to reduce energy consumption at the beginning of this year, to get the price of oil back down to 80 dollars? How many people who have had to go into foreclosure would have been able to keep their homes? How many jobs that have been eliminated would have remained? How many people who now have no protection from the current economic turmoil could have kept a small nest egg to get them safely through the tough times?
There have been painful consequences of the deception about the causes and solutions for the high cost of energy. Big oil companies have been making record-breaking profits. The rest of us have seen our standard of living crumble.
We’ve been drilled, baby. Drilled.