Apr 23, 2012

The hidden costs of a gallon of gas are rising...an honest admission that we really can’t drill our way to continuing cheap gas,

This month marks the second anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers and leaked 4.9 million barrels of crude oil, causing extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats and to the area’s fisheries and tourism industry. The spill’s local impact still unfolds.

Now the nation is in the midst of an election-year energy debate -- with mostly a sole focus on rising prices at the pump -- that is, in light of the Gulf disaster, woefully shortsighted. This is underscored by a recent report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The organization calculated that world energy use is on pace to increase 80 percent by mid-century, with 85 percent of the energy coming from fossil fuels. Carbon emissions will double by 2050, which would likely push global temperatures past the target of two degrees Celsius, beyond which scientists say climate change could be extremely dangerous. Air pollution also will increase along with the incidence of cardiovascular disease, asthma and other health consequences.

The organization suggested putting a cost on polluting and greenhouse gas emissions with carbon taxes and cap-and-trade practices. Given the dangers ahead of us, these market-driven trading mechanisms seem a better option than federal micromanagement -- the current policy of both political parties.

Besides an honest admission that we really can’t drill our way to continuing cheap gas, what’s missing as well from the current debate is any acknowledgment of the rising hidden costs of that gallon of gas at the pump. The kind of risky offshore mile-deep drilling that precipitated the Gulf spill is a case in point.

After a moratorium, the White House put in place tougher drilling requirements, then opened new areas to development in the Gulf and in remote parts of the Arctic that are a 1,000 miles from the nearest Coast Guard base. House Republicans have pushed through legislation that speeds drilling plan reviews and opens even more new areas. “The Republicans and the oil industry are maintaining the speed-over-safety mentality that led to the BP disaster in the first place,” said Rep. Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who had been critical of the president’s response to the spill from the BP-leased rig. What’s more, House Republicans are even pressing now to open the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to drilling, politically off limits since the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill.

Please continue reading at: