It's pretty clear right from the start that Norris' intent is simply to place the blame at the feet of feckless Dummycrats. Because, you know, the two Republican oilmen at the head of the executive branch have done so much to tackle this problem. Yes, the Democrats have been full of empty promises on a variety of issues, but that doesn't excuse the ignorance and intellectual dishonesty of people like Norris on this issue. And price gouging is only one of many reasons for the spike in oil prices.
The price for all those things is going to rise whether we like it or not; the only question is if we do things that will help prepare, diffuse the impact and perhaps cushion the blow for the people who can least afford it. I mean, I know that all the oil company executives and oil futures speculators have duly earned their eight- and nine-figure bonuses and all. But all these things Professor Gingrich expounds upon are based on unsustainable premises.
Incidentally, Gingrich was on Face the Nation this morning touting much the same philosophy, with a snappy slogan of "Drill Here, Drill Now, Save Money". Yes, folks, if you let Shell and Exxon drill in ANWR and melt mountains of shale in the Rockies, gas prices will magically return to two bucks a gallon. Jesus, they just count on people to be cartoonishly gullible, don't they? It's an operative assumption for them, because they're rarely disappointed.
Here's where it gets a little weird, with hilarious results:
This is going to take a bit to unpack, this feeble nonsense, but bear with me. The first thing you might notice is the sheer redundancy of Norris' bullet points; the third and fourth points merely reiterate the first, and he rephrases the Gulf of Mexico and California (Pacific) and Florida (Atlantic) several times. And even Norris' own link on shale oil, rather than actually claiming greater resources than the entire Middle East, makes the more modest claim that "it could eventually rival the oil fields of Saudi Arabia". What could? Why, the shale on federal land that the oil companies wish to extract. The more exorbitant claim Norris suggests appears to come from Orrin Hatch further down in the short interview part of the article.
Here's a brief rundown on the extraction process for shale oil; it requires intense amounts of heat to be generated to separate the kerogen into refinable oil, has not been sufficiently tested and employed in any substantial ongoing process capacity, and can be environmentally destructive. This is not about a few smug latte liberals preserving the scenic views from their cabins in Telluride, it's about oil companies rushing into public land for penny-ante leases to set up processing and refining infrastructures. And by the time they recoup their R&D and overhead -- and the usual bonuses -- the offset at the pump is going to be minimal. Norris and Gingrich and the rest of them would like you to believe that oil produced domestically stays here, but that's not necessarily so. If the cash-flush Chinese or Europeans are willing to pay more for it, it will go to those places. That's how that free-market thing works, cuz.
As for this "we haven't built a new refinery lately" schtick, what do you mean "we", Chief? The oil companies have let their domestic refinery capability run off. Let's see, why might that be? Because they know that most of the major fields have peaked, and it's not cost-effective to dump billions of dollars into planned obsolescence? Naw, that's too simple -- it must be a conspiracy. Well, it is a conspiracy, Chuck, but not of bien pensant Dummycrats telling everyone how to live virtuously. It's a conspiracy of the bottom line. It's business. And hell, Montana's Democratic governor proposed building Fischer-Tropsch refineries to process the state's enormous resources of coal into oil, since the current price makes it more than cost-effective. But those infrastructural efforts take a lot of time and investment.
Meanwhile, what have Americans done to help economize, to conserve, since as we all know, conservatism is holy? Not a goddamned thing, that's what. The only thing that has finally forced individuals to take the situation seriously and dump their gas-guzzlers for more economical vehicles has been the drastic price increases. I think that sucks, because Norris' final point is actually right on the money -- this crisis most adversely impacts the people who are stuck with it. They have to commute because the local jobs pay for shit (what few of them there are), and they can't afford to move to the city because their houses are now worth maybe two-thirds of what they were two years ago, and would take a year to sell anyway.
And nowhere does Norris (nor Gingrich in his FTN appearance this morning) even mention the option of economizing, of driving smaller and smarter. It's not even on the table. No, they're perfectly happy to misdirect people who should know better but can't admit it to themselves, that the promised land of two-buck gas is theirs for the taking, if only we'll let national forests be plundered for profit.
Anybody who believes that deserves what they get, and if they have to pay six bucks a gallon to fill up their penis-compensating jacked-up F350, so much the better. They can pay twelve bucks a gallon for all I care. But the rapidly rising cost of gas is directly due to ramped-up demand from China and India meeting or exceeding production and extraction capacity, and peak supply. Factor in the risk premium caused by the war, futures speculation, and failure to check consumption, and it's a perfect storm. You could start melting down the Rockies tomorrow, and that oil is not going to hit the market for at least a couple years. And not only, as I pointed out, will it be unlikely to offset significantly after initial costs are recouped, but any cleanup costs incurred would be out-of-pocket for the taxpayers as well, one way or the other.
So is there a real solution? I don't think the usual "one size fits all" approach is going to help anybody, except the people who make a direct profit off of whatever scheme they can rope a career shill like Newt Gingrich into endorsing. But one key to it is, as Orrin Hatch points out, the degree to which oil is required for transportation, and how problematic it is to switch that overnight.
A hack like Hatch instantly translates that into "more oil now". But what about infrastructure; can you get businesses and residences off-line from oil-generated power? How much oil would it free up to invest in solar power across the American Southwest? How much oil would be conserved getting the rail system back together, and letting the airline industry transform into more of a business/short-term travel scenario? How much would these things cost? Who cares; if we can pour $3bn/week into Iraq, we can find some money to do something that will pay direct dividends and free up petroleum resources.
I don't think we should be at the mercy of inbred petrocracies and corrupt dictators either, but the way out from under it is not to drill and melt everything in sight. That might be a miniscule, short-term part of a far more comprehensive energy policy, but it solves nothing. It barely qualifies as kicking the proverbial can. And there's no way it should even be proposed, much less considered, without significant efforts to curb waste and excessive consumption.
People like Chuck Norris and Newt Gingrich shouldn't just be ignored, they should be repudiated at every possible opportunity. This is only the start of a very serious situation looming, one that will require a very patient, committed restructuring of transportation and delivery systems, one that will not kill the economy but actually provide it with a new dimension of potential, one that might undercut the oil oligarchy with more regionalized or even localized systems of energy delivery. Whether or not people are happy with the idea is irrelevant; the continuing rapid depletion of oil resources is indifferent to what you think you're entitled to drive. This "math is hard, let's go shopping" approach to dealing with the real world is over, one way or the other.
The only question is whether this problem gets addressed in time before the next big resource crisis -- potable water -- will have to be dealt with.