Oil consumers puppets on a string

With the technology we have today, it’s a disgrace that we still largely depend on oil as our main source of energy, writes Mike Bryan. This column appears in the March issue of EPM with the headline, "Puppets on a string."
By Mike Bryan | February 16, 2016

The recent statement of American Petroleum Institute CEO Jack Gerard that the renewable fuel standard (RFS) is “a relic of our nation’s era of energy scarcity and uncertainty” reflects the myopic vision of an industry that has become increasingly out of touch with mainstream America. The oil industry is so desperate to hold on to the last remaining vestiges of an energy source that is fast becoming a relic in its own right, that it will sacrifice anything—including national security—to save itself.

Diminishing the importance of renewable energy based on finding more sources of domestic oil, is like touting the discovery of a more deadly nuclear weapon rather than finding a peaceful solution to conflict. Oil has powered the world for generations, but, in truth, it has killed more people in the process than all the American wars combined.

With the technology we have today, it’s a disgrace that we still largely depend on oil as our main source of energy. The only reasons we continue do so, is because it is cheap, available and the infrastructure is well-established. One might argue that those are good reasons to continue, until you examine the real cost of oil and the availability of cleaner, more dependable and, in some cases, cheaper alternatives.

Oil has become the easy path, the path of least resistance, the energy source that we all know is killing us and polluting our environment but we just turn our heads and hope that the government will save us from this known carcinogenic killer. In fact, the government is in on it. Many are under the spell of dependency, a cheap energy source and the influence bought by the deep pockets of Big Oil. We have come to expect myopic thinking from the oil industry, but we should not tolerate it from our elected officials. We spend billions on defense to protect us from foreign threats, yet financially support and encourage an industry that has decimated our environment and killed countless numbers of our citizens.

As the strongest nation on earth, we have no control over our energy when it comes to oil. We are at the mercy of other countries and cartels. The price of oil goes up, we complain, the price of oil goes down and we cheer. We are the puppet who acts in whatever way the oil cartels want us to act. Perhaps in time, the puppet actually begins to believe they are in control, but a jerk of the string snaps us back into the reality of who is in control.

It doesn’t need to be this way. We can be in control. We have the resources, the technology and the capability to actually control our energy destiny. It’s time to tell the puppet master that we are taking over. Oil benefits small pockets of our economy and creates the need for large-scale transportation infrastructure changes, which generate even more pollution. Renewable energy on the other hand is diverse, it can be spread across the entire country, benefiting large swaths of the population, thus minimizing transportation demands.

In the final analysis, nature will always return to the default position, and when the oil wells of today are nothing more than rusted relics of a polluted past, nature will still be producing clean, dependable, healthy energy.

That’s the way I see it.

Author: Mike Bryan
Chairman, BBI International