January 31, 2011
This is a big week in Punxsutawney, PA. Phil, the famous groundhog resident, will pop up on Wednesday morning to tell us all how much longer the winter will be. If Phil looks back on last year’s prediction, he would note that crude oil was at $82 a barrel, and only $2.50 at the gas pump, but $62 and $2.25 in 2009.
Now the year is 2011. And, $92 crude oil translates to $3.25 at the pump.
While Phil may go back underground for 6 more weeks, will Congress hide as well? Will they do the same as was done in 2010, or 2009, or even 2008? Watch the price of crude go higher?
It’s time for a national energy policy! Recent unsettling events in the mid-East are expected to apply upward price pressure in the short term. Growing global economies and the thirst for more energy will push prices higher in the long term.
Big news last year was the growth of the U.S. population to over 310 million people. In 1900, the figure was 76 million, and in 2000, it was 281 million people. Globally, in 1900, the population was 1.6 billion, 6 billion in the year 2000, and today is nearly 7 billion people. Projections of 2050 are as high as 9.5 billion. Even if the estimates are off by a billion or so (remember, this is 2011 and billions really don’t count as much), there will still be a lot of people that need energy.
As the rest of the world constructs turbines and installs solar panels on a huge scale, what are our leaders doing to meet our energy needs? Most of those in Washington seem to have the same idea as Phil: Let’s go back to bed and not worry about it! Rising food prices have caused riots in Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, and Yemen. What’s next? And, yes, higher energy prices can also be expected to put pressure on transportation and food costs.
Despite more cars, more people, and increased power demand, the U.S. has not built a new refinery since 1976. Now, our leaders talk about jobs. And, they talk about how we’re going to export more U.S. made products. How do they propose to do it without an energy policy? How can new plants open, and how can we expand existing facilities without clean and readily available energy? How are new jobs created if employees can’t afford to drive to work? The fact that mass transit isn’t readily available to most Americans is just as big of a problem.
Maybe that’s why our leaders are still not looking towards the sunlight. They just don’t know where it is, and consequently what to do. Maybe they’re waiting for $4.00 gas. Or, higher.
Bottom line: it’s time to stop kicking the can down the street!