Let's get something straight: Oil drilling does NOTHING for "energy independence"

Palin keeps repeating the widely used talking point that more domestic oil drilling will somehow magically lead to greater US energy independence.

It will not. Why? Because oil is a fungible commodity. Any oil pumped here will only be sold on the world market to the highest bidder. True, additional oil production anywhere in the world is likely to depress global prices somewhat. But since we do not have a nationalized oil industry, all of that US oil does not belong to America. It belongs to the oil companies that pumped it. And they are not going to, for reasons of pure charity, decide to sell gasoline to Americans for $0.89 a gallon rather than sell it to someone else in the world for $4.00 a gallon.

If you want to increase energy independence, you need to come up with sources of energy that are not as fungible, that are not as easily transported and sold to other countries. More domestic oil cannot posibly help—unless we get into a world war, get blockaded, etc., and the govt. DOES nationalize the industry.

Yeah, and I love the way those anti-big-government conservatives are essentially asking for nationalization of the oil industry. That’s about as “big government” as it gets.

Well, electricity isn’t as easily transported across the oceans. As far as I know - please correct me if I’m wrong.

That’s all I’ve got.

edit: just to clarify: that means that sources of energy that are/need to be directly converted to electricity (solar and wind, for example - while nuclear power would be out, because it’s much easier to transport uranium than heat or power) would be good candidates.

Well…the theory is if we produced enough for our own needs we would not be beholden to the Middle East. It is true all the oil is on a global market but we really wouldn’t give a rat’s ass what happened in the Middle East at all if we could provide all our own needs.

However, for all the drilling they are proposing they will still come nowhere close to providing self-sufficiency for the US. We’d still be hugely dependent on foreign oil. Not to mention if they start today it’ll be 10 years before any oil makes a dent in our supply needs.

So, the whole “Drill, Drill Drill” thing is just another bogus heap of BS they are shoveling to us.

No one expects drilling to be able to satisfy our oil needs. It’s just one component. But it is a component that will help. As would all the others: nuclear, wind, natural gas, coal, etc.

I don’t even think it’s one component. How exactly would it help in attaining a goal of energy independence?

We produce about 3% of the world’s oil and use 25%. Even if we were able to miraculously double our oil output, we would still need to buy from foreign countries, and what we’re talking about doing is changing the 3% to 3.01%. The only change expanding drilling will cause is it will make more money for the oil companies.

No, they’re asking for what amounts to massive government subsidization of the oil industry, which in and of itself is nothing new, and does not amount to nationalization. The difference is, if the oil industry were nationalized, the government, as sole stockholder, would set all its prices and get all its profits.

Did you miss the part where he said drilling will do nothing for ten years? It’s not going to help for quite a while, so we need to look at other stuff to work on for the immediate future.

Even if it were possible to produce enough oil for our domestic needs, the theory wouldn’t hold true. What if we are happily producing all the oil we need when suddenly the Middle East explodes and ceases all oil production. When France, Germany, China, and Japan are all willing to pay $400/barrel for our oil, we’d have to start giving a rat’s ass about what just happened in the Middle East. Because we’d have to pay $400/barrel for our oil too. Because it’s a global market. Which is why drilling doesn’t help our energy independence, even in theory.

Well shucks, and here I figured that if we drilled and produced all the oil that we needed to fulfill our energy needs domestically, than that would mean we could function independently from foreign produced sources.

I’m still not seeing the fallacy, but I guess you must be a lot smarter than me.

The way to end dependence on foreign oil is to use less oil. Conservation is strangely unpopular, though. It’s a simple message that should have wide cross-party appeal. It plays into the supposedly popular ideals of personal reponsibility, thrift, and good stewardship of the environment.

The US gets a fairly large portion of its gas and oil from places besides the Middle East, like Canada and Mexico. Why is it a political imperative to end our purchases from these countries.

Why not say “We need to stop buying hydrocarbons produced in certain nasty places, like Saudi Arabia”. Of course, even if the US could somehow magically produce all of the oil it needed domestically, the repressive regimes which we are so interested in not buying from would just sell it to somebody else. Fungible commodity and all.

Depends on your definition of the word ‘nothing’ of course. It has a non-zero effect because, as you noted in your second paragraph, it has an effect on the availability of world oil, on the amount of slack in the system…as well as increased capital (and taxes) in this country.

I don’t think anyone (even Palin) is saying that more drilling will magically make us energy independent, or free us from foreign oil (if they are then they are wrong). This is merely one thing we can do, and a small one at that.


True. And if we could burn water for fuel we’d be in great shape also. magellan01 left out conservation as a very effective way of helping to get to energy independence, inadvertently I’m sure. Conservation must be done by everyone, and if people are convinced that drilling is going to have a big impact, they may decide to buy that SUV. Drill baby drill might hurt energy independence more than it helps.

As has been said, repeatedly, it won’t help because the oil won’t necessarily GO here. It’ll go to the highest bidder. It makes us no more independent than if we were buying it from anywhere else.

Unless, of course we refuse to let it be sold out of the country; good luck getting the pro-drilling crowd to agree with that. This is about profit, not independence.

“We” aren’t drilling anywhere, is the OP’s point. “We”, as in, the American people, buy our oil (and gas) from oil companies. “We”, as in the American government, don’t own oil companies (well, directly, anyhow) and “we” have no business, in our current paradigm, telling them where they can and can’t sell the oil they pump from “our” sources.

“We” will get screwed when “They” (the oil companies) sell to the highest bidder (as is totally their right, of course), not to Americans. “Our” oil might well end up being sold to Canada or France or China; there’s nothing keeping it here just because it came from here. How does selling our oil to other people make us energy independent?

The fallacy is that we could not produce enough oil to fulfill our energy needs. We can’t even come close, and if we WERE producing 25% of the world’s oil (the same proportion we use), it would still be traded on the world market and the prices would still be subject to global supply and demand factors. Unless you want the government to take over oil production and prevent the oil companies from selling oil to other countries.

‘We’ get taxes. ‘We’ charge those companies for the rights to use that land. ‘We’ get jobs and other revenue out of it as well. Oh yeah…and ‘we’ benefit by a non-zero reduction in the price of gas at the pump (eta: due to a non-zero reduction in the price of oil per barrel), by the non-zero expansion of slack in the system…and by the non-zero effect of that extra capital injected into our over all economy.

‘We’ seem to actually derive more than a few benefits out of the deal actually…


Yes, you’re right, and that’s more or less what I meant…and basically we have “conservatives” demanding something akin to socialism, and it makes me giggle. Conservatives are supposedly all anti-big-government and YOYO when it suits their needs, but when the shit hits the fan, they go crying for Daddy.

Exactly right, IMO. Increasing domestic electrical generating capacity (generators that aren’t fueled by highly fungible commodities) WOULD lead to greater energy independence.