>Western Tribune Column July 30

>Here is my column from The Western Tribune last week, July 30, 2008.

Could it be that even Mother Nature is wishing for an Obama presidency? Recent events in Louisiana would lead one to believe so. Republican candidate John McCain was scheduled to be flown by helicopter to an oil rig to promote offshore drilling, and a hurricane named Dolly developed and scuttled the plan.

And in what could just be bad New Orleans voodoo toward McCain, a barge ripped through an oil tanker on the Mississippi River just south of New Orleans spilling 419,000 gallons of #6 fuel oil and closing the river between the port city and the Gulf of Mexico, at a cost estimated to be at least $100,000 a day to the port. Damage to wildlife and the environment has not been assessed but is certain to be significant.

Of course the oil spill was not directly related to offshore drilling, but it does underscore that the risks to public health, the environment and to commerce might be greater with increased exploration and drilling.

For those who do not believe in Mother Nature or voodoo, maybe the words of T. Boone Pickens, an oil billionaire, will be convincing. Pickens, whose commercials are airing on cable news networks, is promoting his plan for dealing with the energy crisis. Over the next few weeks more of his plan will be revealed, but we know from his web site, pickensplan.com, that wind power and natural gas are the cornerstones of the plan.

Pickens says “This is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of.”

Drill happy folks claim oil prices would go down if the president and congress lifted the ban on offshore drilling. The president did so, and the price per barrel dropped about $10. As of this writing, the price at the pump is still $3.97 a gallon, so that savings did not trickle down to the corner station.

I am not sure that politicians from either party should be determining our energy policy, but am pretty sure that Pickens has done the research and understands the problem. I also see from his web site that he stands to profit immensely from the plan, as he makes money from natural gas. But that is OK. At least he has a plan to see us through the next few decades when the real solutions to long term sustainable energy will be developed.

After all, it’s not just about the difficulties we are experiencing because of higher gas prices, but the effect that our actions will have on the world of our children and their descendents that we should consider. Otherwise, we are just being selfish.

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