Windfalls For Windmills: Big Oil Won't Miss The Coming Alt Energy Boom
Eschewing the bogus demands for a windfall tax on oil companies, President Bush is calling for industry leaders to reinvest their record profits into new technology and alternative fuel development initiatives. With the rising demand for hybrid, flex fuel and other gas-free vehicles and a growing antipathy for our criminal dependence on foreign oil, look for more companies to follow BP's recent lead into alternative fuel technologies. Look also for the oil barons to mount public relations campaigns like GM's "Live Green By Going Yellow" blitz with their recent spoils.
Alternative energy isn't, of course, the only option for lowering gas prices and killing the terrorist cash cow greasing the war machines of rouge nations. American companies could increase domestic production by opening more refineries, a cost that will passed to consumers no matter how much the oil supply increases and no matter how high the record profits go. Drilling in ANWR, another oft-vaunted measure to increase supply, is politically unviable at the moment and will remain so unless its proponents can raise some serious political capital soon. With the President focused on alternative fuels, this doesn't seem likely. The extraction of usable petroleum from tar sand (the US and Canada have the world's largest tar sand deposits) is becoming a cleaner process but does nothing to change the kind of fuel we'd actually be burning, an issue of increasing importance to many Americans who recognize that no oil-based solutions are environmentally efficient or fundamentally sustainable in the long run.
The nation is, in effect, catching on.
Fossil fuel reserves will long outlast their usefulness and profitability if consumers continue to demand the expanded commercial use of more efficient energy technologies and can feel good about the environment in the process. The global war on terror, the lunacy in Iran and the mainstream inroads made by environmentalists in recent years have produced an American zeitgeist green in more ways than one. Our emerging demand is cheap, clean, American energy, and, like all good capitalists, we're trusting the market to bring it. Big Oil knows if it doesn't leverage this niche someone else will. Famously characterized as an octopus with its tentacles in everything during the antitrust craze of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the industry won't sit this growth phase out, and, like all smart capitalists, its leaders have made sure that the initial capital for this expansion comes from somewhere else. So, buy 4 dollar gas with a smile, America. You're investing in the future.