Alaska Editorial: Missing the point

This editorial first appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News:

Last week’s announcement that the Obama administration would sell off 30 million barrels of Strategic Petroleum Reserve oil was short-sighted and won’t do much good.

Alaska’s Congressional delegation agreed that the approach is a poor substitute indeed for an energy plan. Such a plan must include increased domestic oil production.

Goodness knows we’ve got the oil. Sen. Mark Begich points out that “developing Alaska’s oil and gas resources buys our country 100 years of energy security from countries who don’t like us.”

His colleague, Alaska’s senior Sen. Lisa Murkowski, notes that in addition to reducing our need for foreign oil, “domestic production .... also provides our nation with an opportunity to create jobs, generate government revenues, close our trade deficit and pay down our debt.”

Congressman Don Young sees what he calls the raid on the reserves as “a clear acknowledgement of the need to increase domestic supply.” Characteristically, he goes further, calling the move “all talk, no action” and a decision that “does absolutely nothing.”

The point of the reserves is for truly hard times — not for when the price of oil is a political liability to a president seeking re-election in a disappointing economy.

Everyone talks about the need for a realistic national energy policy — one that not only looks to renewable energy, but that acknowledges we’ll be needing oil for some time to come. Even if everyone stopped driving fossil-fuel vehicles tomorrow, we’d still be using oil.

Wouldn’t it be smart to be producing it in America and buying it from Americans?

The reserves are intended for when we can’t get oil and we have a true emergency. The idea isn’t to empty them when we just don’t want to pay four bucks a gallon at the pump.

A short-sighted raid indeed.

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