Increasing Oil Drilling Won’t Solve High Gas Prices

Increasing oil drilling will not solve high gas prices, despite what the fossil fuel industry wants you to believe. Representative Sean Casten (D-IL) spoke about this topic recently and Forbes shared a video clip of his speech on Twitter. Rep. Casten pointed out how both the fossil fuel industry and conservative politicians are lying when they make the claim that increasing oil drilling will alleviate high gas prices. The solution for the US is domestic renewable energy and electric transport. That is the only way to truly resolve the problem of volatile oil prices (and thus gas prices) set by a global oil market.

“Vladimir Putin’s horrific war against the Ukrainian people has all of us talking about how to prevent him and other oil-rich autocrats like him from being able to afford to commit these heinous acts in the future. It’s also all of a sudden made everyone in this town an energy expert, so I’m here to set the record straight about a few things.

“1) Russia is a petrostate. Fossil fuels are funding Putin’s war crimes against the Ukrainian people. Fossil fuels are funding Putin’s assault on democracy. Fossil fuels are funding the demise of post–World War 2 stability in Europe. Putin’s power comes from fossil fuels and our world’s dependence on them.

“2) You cannot end an addiction by increasing the supply. No amount of increased fossil fuel extraction in the United States, which I would know should take years, can take away Russia’s influence on the global energy market. Since fossil fuels are a global commodity, as long as we depend on them, Americans will continue to be subject to the wild price fluctuations based on the whims of petro dictators. [Editor’s note: And Putin is not the only one.]

“3) When the fossil fuel industry and the conservative politicians they bankroll go on television claiming the solution to the pain that you are feeling at the pump today is to drill more in the US, they are lying to you. They are lying in a cynical attempt to take advantage of a tragic situation to line their own pocketbooks. You deserve the truth.

“The truth is that there is only one long-term solution to stop funding oil-rich autocrats and insulate Americans from energy price inflation. Double down on our transition to cleaner, cheaper, domestically produced renewable energy efficiency. The horror that we are seeing in Ukraine makes it abundantly clear that clean energy isn’t just necessary to protect against climate devastation.

“Preventing wars [and] protecting our national security demands investments in clean energy. American energy independence demands investments in clean energy. Lowering demands costs investments in clean energy.

“Every day, we fail to reach an agreement on the baseline climate investments that were passed in the House is a day that Americans pay the price at the pumps and oil-rich autocrats profit.”

Short- and Long-Term Solutions to Global Oil Dependence

I think that Rep. Casten is right that increasing oil drilling won’t help Americans at the pump. I also agreed with Elon Musk when he said that we needed to increase oil and gas output immediately. And that has been done. However, in the long run, we need to double down, as Rep. Casten said, on renewables today. The USA needs to go harder on renewables in order to sustain our own energy independence. The US is already a top producer in oil and gas, with Texas being the widely known leader. However, Texas has also become the nation’s leader in new clean energy — yet no one really talks about that.

Inside Climate News recently reported on this, noting that Texas led the US in new renewable energy capacity in 2021. It had 7,352 megawatts of new wind, solar, and energy storage projects come online last year. In addition to this, Texas was also the leader when ranking the states on how much solar, wind, and storage it has under construction or in advanced development.

The bad news is that clean energy industries don’t have the political influence of the oil and gas industry. This can be seen with how the state’s politicians blamed wind energy for the failure of natural gas during the Texas winter freeze of 2021. Actually, it was the winter freeze of the South, but Texans suffered much worse than the rest of us in the south due to its grid and political and economic issues relating to the grid.

The point is that we can do both in order to respond to the vast consequences of Russia’s bad behavior until we can eventually become energy independent. But will we?


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