Ending the Oil Veto

The President tried to end the oil veto over our economy recently by releasing oil from the strategic petroleum reserve.

The response was that crude stockpiles at U.S. refineries actually declined. This despite U.S. crude production rising by 17,000 barrels/week over the last three weeks. Speculators continue driving the market.

All this creates an “oil veto” on economic growth that can’t be broken by slight supply increases. When growth appears on the horizon oil prices rise, and they keep rising until growth is driven out.

This is the key point those in the energy harvesting industries need to emphasize, again-and-again. We can no longer grow on oil. All oil does is funnel economic power to people and places with ample supply – the Gulf Arabs, Russia, Venezuela, Iran. People who don’t like us and have no interest in our economy growing.

Oil advocates say this veto is impossible to break, that it’s ironclad, that the only way to compete is to produce more-and-more, regardless of the environmental cost. But we are producing more and the veto remains in place. Because it’s one market. Increase supplies for a time and someone else can decrease them, or imagine they’re about to decline, which in a speculative market is just as good.

Every gallon of oil equivalent we take out of demand, every gallon of oil equivalent we produce with solar power, with wind power, with geothermal power, or with biofuels, is a gallon of oil equivalent we’re not buying from the market. Its production, or the saving of a gallon through insulation and other technologies, creates jobs. It delivers supply. It reduces demand.

The goal must be to change the oil market’s psychology, to convince traders and producers that the value of what’s in the ground is going down, not up, and that their only hope to profit is to produce all they can. Once that change happens, prosperity will return. Until then, the Great Recession will drag on.

Most American voters understand this. Most American politicians, beholden to fossil fuel interests for the campaign money needed for the TV ads that must be bought for re-election, continue to hold their ears on this.

But TV is no longer our dominant political medium. Most people get their news today from this medium, not from TV. And the cost of competing on this medium, whether for sales or for political affection, is lower than with TV. This medium also values two-way interaction, in contrast to TV’s one-way traffic.

So there is hope for breaking the oil veto. A new economy is slowly developing around the technologies featured at REW. And it’s that message of hope that will stop the climate crisis, not the fear or despair coming from politicians.

Hope for growth, and the promise of abundance, must be the message of the energy harvesting industries. It’s the message Americans are desperate for.

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Dana Blankenhorn has covered business and technology since 1978. He covered the Houston oil boom of the 1970s, began making his living online in 1985, and launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of e-commerce, in 1994. He has written for a host of off-line and online publications including The Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age, and ZDNet. He has covered PCs, networks, telecommunications, cable technology, Internet commerce, the Internet of Things, Open Source and Health IT, He began covering alternative energy at his personal blog, Danablankenhorn.com, in 2007.

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