Riddle: Every year the consumption of me goes up. No more ofme is created. And yet every year the supply of me increases. What am I?
Solution: The recoverable supplies of oil, natural gas, andcoal in the United States.
Ok, so it wasn’t the greatest of riddles, but it highlightsan interesting point – thanks to new innovations in exploration and productiontechnology, America’s bounty of domestic energy continues to increase.
A newreport released by the Institute for Energy Research reveals the extent ofAmerica’s natural riches. North America has 1.79 trillion barrels ofrecoverable oil – almost twice as much as the combined reserves of OPECnations! We also have 4.244 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas – enough toprovide the U.S. with electricity for 575 years at current rates.
Despite these gaudy numbers, the Obama Administrationcontinues to make the misleading claim that America’s consumption far outstripsits available resources. Indeed, Obama said earlier this year, “The problem iswe only have about 2 to 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves.”
The trick is all in the semantics. As the IER report reveals,
“Proved reserves represent quantities of oil that are knownto exist in places where development is already occurring at current economicprices. . . These figures do not, however, account for the massive quantitiesof oil that exist in areas where development is not permitted to take place orwhere new technology will add to the reserve base.”
And under Obama, the areas where development is permitted istiny. Current regulatory barriers only permit production on less than 6 percentof federal lands onshore and 2.2 percent offshore.
The misinformation about the size and scope of America’senergy riches has provided ammunition for lawmakers to argue the need fortaxpayer funding for “green” energy. Over the past three years federalsubsidies for oil and natural gas has totaled $2.8billion. By comparison, renewable energy subsidies have nearly tripled,going from $5.1 billion to $14.7 billion. The discrepancy becomes even moreapparent when you consider their share of the total energy pie. For instance,solar energy receives more than $775in taxpayer subsidies per megawatt hour of energy created, while oil andnatural gas receive $0.64 per megawatt hour.
Rather than continue to throw good money after bad in tryingto prop up green energy programs, Washington should be taking steps to removingthe regulatory roadblocks from utilizing the unmatched domestic oil and naturalgas resources available. After all, it’s not some unbreakable riddle, it’s justcommon sense.