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U.S. policy has caused the oil crisis

By Seldon Graham

I am a World War II veteran who has become an expert in energy and national security during the 65 years since I was drafted.

I feel it is my duty to respond to Thomas Friedman’s article, "To bring real reform to Iran, end America’s oil addiction," published June 27 in the Post-Bulletin.

Nationalism or globalization? That is the issue. Are you for the USA or are you for the world — i.e. foreign countries?

I am for the USA. Thomas Friedman is committed to the world’s interests instead of USA’s interests.

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The issue is not whether the USA will leave its three-decade-old anti-USA oil policy and change to a pro-USA oil policy after the public discovers that it is impossible for the "Green Revolution in America" to provide fuel for our gasoline tanks. The issue is when. I hope it is in time to save the USA.

Friedman failed to inform the public that President Jimmy Carter gave the USA oil market to OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) on Jan. 23, 1980, and followed this by signing the oil windfall profits tax bill two months later, thus dealing the USA oil industry a mortal blow.

Cheap foreign oil may have sounded like a good idea at the time to Jimmy Carter and his advisers, but this caused the recession of the 1980s, caused USA proven oil reserves to decrease each year since 1980, and made the USA dependent on foreign oil.

Today, foreign imports are 10 million barrels of oil per day, USA oil production is 5 million barrels, and ethanol is 0.6 million barrels. Imported oil has such a majority of the market that foreign countries control the price of their own oil, thus affecting the price of our gasoline.

OPEC oil prices suddenly started dropping after July 4, 2008. The public had no clue as to why this was happening. Because of the high gasoline prices during the first half of 2008, Newt Gingrich’s "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less," was beginning to catch on — even with the "Don’t-Drill-In-ANWR" Republican presidential candidate.

Foreign sheiks could not afford to let a (reluctantly) pro-USA oil candidate win the presidential election because of high gasoline prices. Therefore, thanks to OPEC, the USA had low oil prices on election day.

There is no reasonable, near-future replacement for gasoline, notwithstanding the "pie-in-the-sky" promises of politicians, environmentalists, and Thomas Friedman.

Ethanol, after a 30-year head start, provides only 4 percent of our current oil demand. In 13 more years, at maximum ethanol production, it is scheduled to provide only 15 percent of our current oil demand.

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Switchgrass biofuel renewable energy would require 205,000 square miles of switchgrass to replace our current oil demand. This would be a switchgrass field 2.4 times the size of Minnesota.

Poplar tree chips would require a 143,000-square-mile forest of poplar trees each year. This would be an annual forest of 1.7 times the size of Minnesota.

The USA just does not have this amount of additional unused cropland for alternative renewable biofuels.

The energy from hydrogen is always less than the energy required to manufacture hydrogen. The pollution and energy required for battery electric cars is hidden, so a full life-cycle analysis is necessary to show the harm and inefficiency.

Compressed Natural Gas is highly explosive natural gas at high pressure, usually about 3,000 pounds per square inch, so there is a good reason why the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does not crash-test CNG cars.

So — back to current reality — actual OPEC oil prices are available but are never reported in the media. Only the Wall Street speculators’ guesses of future oil prices are reported. Americans are too uninformed by the media to realize that foreign oil sheiks are being tempted to increase actual oil prices to keep up with the well-publicized increasing oil prices of the Wall Street speculators. Result: increasing oil and gasoline prices.

A possible temporary stop-gap remedy for gasoline consumers: Demand that the media publish the actual OPEC and USA oil prices along with the Wall Street speculators’ guesses of future oil prices.

That would disclose to the public for the first time that USA oil prices are cheaper than foreign oil prices. That would also disclose that OPEC prices were going up with Wall Street speculators’ guesses of future prices. See "Oil ‘Speculators’ Under Fire," The Wall Street Journal, July 8, 2009.

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The permanent solution: Cheaper USA oil. As Newt Gingrich said in his book by the same title: "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less." Hooray for the USA!

Seldon B. Graham of Austin, Texas, wrote this following a recent visit to Rochester. He is an attorney and former petroleum engineer.

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