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Energy shortage

Oct. 4, 2000

Oil reserves intended for times of war, emergencies

As a result of last week's decision by President Bill Clinton to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPR), located on the Gulf Coast, the average price of oil per barrel has dropped approximately $7, down to an average of $32 per barrel, according to CNN's Web site. The move has done what it was intended to do -- lower short-term oil prices, particularly on home-heating oil in the Northeast as the region prepares for winter.

Republicans have said the decision was solely a political move intended to help Vice President Al Gore, who could be hurt by public disgust over higher oil prices during the Clinton administration. They have argued the reserve should only be used in case of national emergencies and not as a means to lower oil prices.

Regardless, the fact that the only certain way of lowering prices in the United States was to tap the petroleum reserve to increase oil supply shows how reliant the country is on foreign oil. In fact, 66 percent of the world's oil is exported from Middle Eastern and African countries, according to the SPR's Web site. America needs an effective energy policy that will make it less dependent on foreign oil and more independent and able to rely on its own energy sources.

Gov. George W. Bush has said he would focus more on increasing U.S. production, favoring drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. But simply drilling more oil in the U.S. is not the answer either. Eventually, the oil supply will begin to dwindle until there is none left, and then the prices will steadily increase as demand increases.

Yes, the country needs to reduce its reliance on foreign oil, mainly the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). But the United States must also greatly reduce its reliance on oil in general.

America needs an energy policy that centers on the research, development and use of renewable energy sources that will always be reliable because they never run out.

There are many renewable options available -- solar, wind, ethanol and water -- that are not only reliable, but would greatly reduce pollution caused by the combustion of oil.

Short-term solutions, such as tapping into the petroleum reserve or increasing drilling in the United States, may help politicians' careers but will do nothing to help the long-term energy crisis the country faces.

The only way to increase the United States' energy independence is to reduce its dependence on oil and increase the production of renewable, reliable energy sources.