Thursday, June 19, 2008

Americans and oil: Lifestyle, culture and politics

Evidently, the primary motivation for lifting the ban on offshore drilling is high gas prices at the pump. Do not be fooled. This has nothing to do with freeing the US from dependence on foreign oil. America’s appetite for oil will still continue to fund terrorist organizations. A strategy that would bring down gas prices fast and furious is to bring on stream part of the nation's strategic oil reserves. This is the most potent short-term leverage available to the US. The other option is to reduce consumption, especially at the individual car owner level. I am mindful that the vast majority of the low income segment of the society must drive long distances to work. Then there is the whole culture of suburbia and the SUV. But Americans can still demand, through tough legislation, better fuel efficiency standards from the automobile manufacturers. This is what Bush should be pushing right now. American household must now make some real hard lifestyle choices. Essentially it is a choice between taking a curative but awfully bitter pill versus the Bush-McCain “lift the ban” placebo. 20 years is a long time to wait before oil prices come down as a result of offshore drilling. But there are concrete and smart legislative steps that we can take now to bring relief at the gas pump in less than three years. America, what will you take, the Pill or the Placebo? 

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