Senator McCain energetically promotes more off-shore oil drilling. The United States is addicted to an energy source, oil, that is drastically changing our environment, with harm to all creatures great and small, and the senator proposes to provide us with more of the stuff.
And what do we gain if this folly is pursued?
The United States Energy Information Administration estimates that drilling in the previously protected off-shore sites could produce, in time, 200,000 barrels of oil per day. Less than 1 percent of the 20,680,000 barrels per day that we used in the year 2007.
Not enough of an increase to have any effect on the price of gasoline at the pump nor on our reliance on foreign oil sources. But enough to contribute to the melting of the ice caps, extinction of polar bears in the wild, flooding of low-lying Pacific islands, and many other bad things.
But we should drill deep into the earth, not from off-shore platforms, but from selected sites on solid ground. Drill not for oil but to access the earth’s stored thermal energy that lies everywhere at reachable depths beneath the earth’s surface.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) assembled an 18-member panel of eminent geophysicists, drilling engineers, chemical engineers, economists and energy experts to evaluate the technical and economic feasibility of geothermal systems becoming a major supplier of energy in the U.S. by the year 2050.
The conclusion of this panel, after a comprehensive analysis, is that the development of geothermal resources could produce 100GW (100,000,000,000 watts) of cost competitive generating power, 10 percent of U.S. base-load electricity, by 2050. This would be clean energy — no greenhouse gases.
We should follow the governor of California, who remembers the devastation to the beautiful beaches of California from the last off-shore oil leak, and say no to the reckless proposal to put those beaches in jeopardy once again.
The next president of the United States, whether Republican or Democrat, should not increase our addiction to oil, but should concentrate on the development of alternate energy sources. One activity should certainly be to follow the recommendations of the MIT panel and initiate a program to provide clean geothermal energy.
Glenn L. Brown