I have heard enough of T. Boone Pickens on national television and print media to be tired of him, but he makes a valid point. In 1970 we imported 24 percent of our oil from foreign sources. Today, it’s 70 percent. That translates into $700 billion dollars a year we are sending to other countries, some of whom are very hostile toward anything American. According to Pickens, this is the largest transfer of wealth in human history. He suggests that we turn to wind and solar energy, saying that we cannot drill our way out of this situation. He may be exactly right. President George W. Bush says that we are “addicted to oil” and suggest that we address our problem by drilling for more oil, primarily in Alaska and off shore.
Maybe Bush is right, or maybe they are both right. As an ordinary citizen, I don’t know enough about it to make a reasonable decision. But I am influenced by George Bush’s own energy experts saying that if we started drilling today, it would be 2030 before we saw a drop of new gas for our cars. I am not saying that we should not be drilling off shore or tapping into wind, solar and even aqua-energy to meet our needs, but all of those seem to be lengthy, out in the future solutions.
There is something significant we can do right now, and it’s cheap. In fact it will save us money. I remember Jimmy Carter back in 1977 coming on TV in his sweater saying America needs to cut back on its oil consumption, that we are 6 percent of the world population and use 25 percent of its oil. He stressed energy conservation and enacted a 55 mile an hour national speed limit. He warned us that the energy situation required a “moral equivalent to war.” which his critics immediately labeled as his “meow” factor. The idea that Americans sacrifice was too much.
Now, with gas at $4 a gallon and climbing, we hear Carter with new appreciation. Off shore drilling may not pay off for ten years, but we could cut back our speed right now. Cutting from 65 mph to 55 would save 20 percent. Cutting from 75 mph to 55 would save 30 percent and would save a billion barrels of oil per year. This is more than we import from the Persian Gulf.
I have made a commitment with several friends that I will not drive over 60 mph and will stay a little below the posted limit when it is below that. People driving behind me tailgate and stare, but I just think of how much money I am saving them and keeping in our own economy. I wish you would join me. It could make a big difference.