Minnesota Senators Franken and Klobuchar have put in front of the U.S. Senate a Hail Mary bill to make oil policy make sense. I give them an "A" for effort, but can the most lucrative (and by lucrative, I mean corrupting) of resources be brought into line by the sanity of two, little old senators out of the Midwest? I doubt it. But in these strange days of Minnesota Spring in March, we may be poised to become leaders of coherent thought on this issue.
Joining forces with Sen. Bernie Sanders, they are citing evidence that oil futures markets are responsible for up to 56 cents on the cost of each gallon of gas. What that means for me? I may be paying out at least $20 per month to the people who make money off of the idea of oil. How much I'm paying to the PROFITS (the money left over after all other expenses have been covered) to oil corporations and the high-end compensation packages of their CEOs is more difficult to estimate, and probably not advisable for those of us valuing our mental health.
Domestic oil production has continued to increase with drilling picking up steam in the Dakotas and the (gasp) Gulf. The reason this oil wasn't tapped before? Too expensive to do so. When the gettin' was good, a couple generations back, these were the reserves left for another day. Apparently, that day has come.
A few years back, Middle East oil was just too plentiful and too easy to pull out of the ground for much of the U.S. and Canadian oil to be economically competitive. Now, for many political and economic reasons, those previously abandoned domestic prospects are looking a little sweeter. The enormously environmentally damaging and expensive process of sifting oil out of the sand pits of Canada has been dismissed for decades until recently. Now we're ready to sift away.
Bottom line- we need new sources of energy. And we have them. But here's the rub, in order to efficiently, over time, integrate new technology and reduce per capita consumption, energy policy, energy producers, and local consumers would need to work smartly and with discipline towards a well-articulated goal. We haven't even been able to articulate goals, let alone employ our best efforts towards them- yet.
Here's my point- there are people able to articulate policy goals (i.e. Minnesota senators), there is an ever-more-obvious need (see May weather establishing itself during snow season in Minnesota currently), and there is the technology to monitor and restructure markets around environmentally sustainable sources of energy.
We, as citizens, need our leaders to put pressure on oil from every direction. A good start is getting honest with ourselves about the urgent need to move away from oil into sustainable energy sources while easing the financial pain on the average consumer in the process by making the market players mind rules of fairness. For clear, cogent and actionable thoughts on this issue, see the recent efforts of Minnesota senators. Believe it or not, there is some solid leadership in our country's representative bodies.