Many people wonder, how can the United States be exporting more oil and yet we still have high gasoline prices? Open up more oil fields to drive down gasoline prices; build the Keystone Pipline. We have plenty of oil. On Friday, the report that was released indicated we had a surplus of 900,000 barrels. Last quarter we exported more oil than we imported.So why do we have high gasoline prices? We just do not have the capacity to refine. Oil needs to be processed to make gasoline and the last time we opened a new refinery was 1976. Since then, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the number of cars on the road has increased almost two-fold. It would make sense that with limited capacity and an increasing demand, gasoline prices had to climb.
So what should we do? The thought process is, as always double sided. By building another refinery, we continue to do what we have always done and that will stifle additional research into alternative energies, but ultimately help drive down the cost of gasoline. No pun intended. People blame extreme environmentalists and the Obama administration’s strict environmental policies in preventing further exploration. It’s not exploration that is needed. We need refineries. If you do not believe me, look at what happened to gasoline prices after Hurricane Katrina. Those refineries that shut down caused prices to skyrocket, and I would say, we still have not recovered from that. With that said, it takes years to get a refinery up and running at a very large cost. But, that would help create thousands of jobs, not to mention help the other industries. Fortunately there are one or two refineries set to open next year, but will that be enough?
What about alternative energy? It seems to be taking a foothold. The jobs being created are higher paying scientific positions. This is good. We know our current energy resources are limited and one of the best ways to cripple our economy is to cause a disturbance in the oil and gas pipelines, so alternative energy makes sense. However, it too would take years to change our infrastructure, but like the refinery, would create thousands of jobs across the United States and potentially solve the issue surrounding gasoline prices.
The United States historically steps it up when it needs to and innovates. However having “cheaper” gas in the past stifled that innovation and did not provide incentives to do so. Is now the time we make the hard choice and commit to the yet to be discovered fuel resource? In both cases, a solution to the price of gasoline is not immediate. The question we need to ask, do we want to seek out new answers to our problems or to go with what we already know?