If For-Profit Oil is Evil, What’s the Alternative?

by | Jul 2, 2013

Controversy is heating up over an Obama administration plan to drastically reduce the amount of federal lands available for oil shale development in the American West. The Bush administration had set aside 1.3 million acres for oil shale and tar sands development in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. The new Bureau of Land Management [BLM] plan […]

Controversy is heating up over an Obama administration plan to drastically reduce the amount of federal lands available for oil shale development in the American West.

The Bush administration had set aside 1.3 million acres for oil shale and tar sands development in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. The new Bureau of Land Management [BLM] plan cuts that amount by two-thirds, down to 700,000 acres, a decision that has prompted industry outrage.

“What they basically did was make it so that nobody is going to want to spend money going after oil shale on federal government lands,” said Dan Kish, Senior Vice President of Institute for Energy Research.
Oil shale refers to shale rock itself, which contains mineralized hydrocarbons. When subject to intense pressure and extremely high temperatures, oil develops. This can be done by mining the rock first or by leaving it in place and doing the pressurized heating process deep underground.

“That raises all kinds of concerns about what kind of impact that’s going to have on our land and on our water,” said Todd Malmsbury, spokesperson for the Colorado Wildlife Federation. “Water is the most important resource we have in the West. If we pollute that water, if we deplete that water it’s going to hurt everyone out here.”

Kish said the decision will effectively put an end to the development in America of a resource with massive potential because the energy industry will simply go elsewhere. [Source: Foxnews.com 6/22/13]

It’s amazing. Most people assume that the government is responsible for economic activity. If the economy is thriving, it’s thanks to government policy. If the economy collapses, it’s the fault of the administration in charge. That’s what most people assume.

Does anyone stop to think about what the government routinely does to undermine the economy?

Most Americans will shrug off this story and say, “There’s nothing I can do about it.” But we keep electing people who advance these policies. They call it “progressive,” which implies progress.

Will somebody please explain how it’s “progress” to slow down the development of fuel? We’re cutting back on oil shale. We won’t allow new drilling in the ocean, nor in Alaska nor in any American territory where a bird or a tree might be at risk. We depend on fuel from the Middle East, the most politically unstable place on earth, growing more unstable all the time.

It makes some people feel virtuous and morally sound in front of others to be an “environmentalist,” never stopping to think that the ones whose opinions they depend upon for moral soundness approval are doing the same thing in return. You’ve heard the saying, “it’s the blind leading the blind.” Our whole environmentalist-based psychology (from recycling on down) is based not on science or progress so much as, “It’s the right thing to do, and make sure you see me doing it.”

Organazations like the Colorado Wildlife Federation say we have to cut back on oil production in order to have water. Why can’t we have both? Science and for-profit business are certainly equipped to address these issues, far better than the federal government ever could. And what makes a member of a wildlife federation the expert on clean water, anyway? Must we take his word for it that if we continue to produce fuels, all our water will be poisoned?

A lot of people probably agree with me that the for-profit and scientific sectors are much more equipped to give us energy and clean water than the politically motivated government agencies ever could. Yet would these same people vote for a politician who wanted to lower funding for the EPA, the BLM and other federal agencies? Not likely. Would these same people vote for a politician who sought to defund and shut down the EPA and BLM altogether? Or even sell off federal lands to the private sector? Not a chance in hell. It would be the shriek heard ‘round the world, and it would never happen.

So instead, gas prices will continue to stay high, and ultimately go higher over time, as supply (thanks to decisions like this) shrinks relative to demand. The next time gas prices spike up, we’ll hear shouts that it’s the “for profit” oil companies who are to blame. Really? Are we to believe that a not-for-profit charity would do a better job taking oil out of the earth and converting it into uses beneficial for human technology and survival? This is the fantasy of Communism. No, most people don’t consider themselves Communists and will laugh at the suggestion. But if you really believe that drilling for oil at a profit is bad, then you’re left with only one option: Everybody doing everything for free. Wasn’t that what Communism was supposed to bring about?

Americans, more than most, are the victim of their own failure to think things out. This is why we have an EPA and BLM who are limiting the capacity to create oil, rather than freeing up the marketplace to innovate, drill and drive prices down. We’re relying on people with expertise about wild animals to tell us how to handle the water supply and keep the engines of civilization literally running.

Most conclude it’s all too technical to understand. So we’re going to leave it all in the hands of people whose goals are not even the same as most of our own? Most of us want lower prices for fuel, and for the engines of civilization to keep humming and growing. Those are not the priorities of our regulators, of our President, or most of our representatives in Washington DC. Their policies prove this.

The oil industry, now kept out of the American West, will reportedly go elsewhere, according to the news story I cited. But where? America used to be the world’s major economy. We no longer are, not like we were; but nobody else is, either. Western Europe is faltering for the same reasons we are: huge taxes, unsustainable entitlement programs and regulations which strangle private enterprise. China is a totalitarian dictatorship which allows for economic growth simply because it serves the interests of the one-party dictatorship. It may be fascism, but by no means is it anything close to laissez-faire, free market capitalism.

If American companies cannot produce the world’s energy supply…who will? Stay tuned on this issue. Energy prices and production do have an impact on your daily life. You can keep your heads in the sand only so long before the growing effects of such idiotic policies come home to you. When they do, will you please blame the right people?

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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