Drill, Baby -- No, Don't -- Yes, Drill!

May 16, 2011 - 4:03 AM

According to the AAA, the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline in the lower 48 this week was $3.93.

That ranges from a high of $4.27 in Connecticut to a low of $3.67 in Wyoming.

Given the number of gasoline stations in Connecticut v the number of stations in Wyoming one might think that competitive pressures would reverse those numbers but, there you are.

President Barak Obama, who has switched to All-Campaign-All-The-Time mode, according to the NY Times' John Broder, said in his weekly radio and Internet address, that the administration would begin to hold annual auctions for oil and gas leases in the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve, a 23-million-acre tract on the North Slope of Alaska.

Obama will also:

-- Accelerate a review of the environmental impact of drilling off the southern and central Atlantic coast;

-- Extend leases already granted for drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico that had been frozen after last year's BP spill; and, according to the Broder piece;

-- Will provide incentives for oil companies to more quickly exploit leases they already hold.

The New Jersey Congressional delegation is split on whether to allow exploration off the coast of New Jersey who's self-selected nickname is "The Garden State."

According to a website focusing on Franklin Lakes, New Jersey: Conservative New Jersey Congressman Scott Garrett (R-5th) was the only legislator in the Garden State to support a federal bill that will allow for drilling near the coast of the Jersey Shore should the Senate approves the measure.

The rest of the New Jersey delegation - Republicans and Democrats - opposes drilling off the coast but, given the nature of the material which routinely washes up on its pristine beaches of it's a little hard to understand what they're afraid of.

SIDEBAR

I graduated from West Orange Mountain High School in Essex County, New Jersey. I am, as we speak, aggressively following the Kate-Middleton's-Sister's-Diet in preparation to attend my 137th reunion this August.

In my youth (or, as we pronounced it, "yute") I spent summer weekends "down the shore" at Bradley Beach, New Jersey so when I write about what washes up on the beaches, I know whereof I speak.

END SIDEBAR

Nevertheless, Democrat Frank Pallone, according to the website, said that the New Jersey shore is "'an invaluable resource' and he is concerned what effect an oil spill could have on a region so heavily dependent on tourism."

Back to Obama.

As an example of the ping-pong nature of Obama's energy policy, let's drift into the Way Back Machine to the good old days of December 2010 a long, long five months ago.

On December 1 CNN reported that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced, "Barack Obama will not be allowing new drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico for at least seven years" and "the exploration of drilling possibilities in sensitive areas of the Arctic will proceed 'with utmost caution.'"

According to the CNN report, that announcement - again five months ago - "Effectively reverses White House plans announced at the end of March [14 months ago] to open the Gulf region - along with other large swaths of U.S. coastal waters - to oil and natural gas drilling."

Yeah, well, that was then; this is now.

Reacting to gasoline prices and polling numbers is no way to establish a national energy policy.

According to the Federal Reserve Economic Database, we spent about $42.5 billion to import oil in April. Annualized, that adds up to more than a half TRILLION dollars to places like Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela, Iraq, and Angola.

Our largest oil trading partners are Mexico and Canada, but that's a symbiotic relationship which helps all three parties.

The others - which are among the next five in order of the amount we import - are unstable, unfriendly to the United States, or both.

How safe does that make you feel?

President Obama should stop treating America's energy security like it is nothing more than a chip in the Great Presidential Poker Game.

We need an energy policy which makes sense, which will provide some measure of stability, and which reflects the realities of available domestic resources from wind and solar, to nuclear and natural gas.

Our energy future is too important to be reduced to a bumper strip.

On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the AAA site so you can see what gasoline costs in your state as well as the Broder piece, the Franklin Lakes coverage and the CNN historical piece. Also, a Mullfoto of the MullCat (taken with my new camera) and a pretty funny Catchy Caption of the Day.