Monosyllabic Pedantry

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Should we be Drilling?

This image is from the Energy Information Administration, the official energy statistics from the US government.

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  • So what are their assumptions when they made their projections?

    If there's anything that being a historian teaches you, it's that people have a notoriously bad track record when it comes to guessing what comes next.

    By Blogger Bridgett, at 2:07 PM  

  • The only thing I draw from this is that it's a direct contradiction to the NYT article you pointed me to, that said that the US is actually using less gasoline, and it's killing the refining industry.
    Other than that one article, everything that I've been reading says that we are using more gas, and we will continue to use more.

    Walter Williams made the excellent point that our domestic drilling won't offset the supply of world oil all that much, but it will greatly effect the market by demonstrating to OPEC that we have a lever of our own against their control of the market.

    By the way, your consistent questioning of the sources of information, makes you the hottest chick on the internet. If I wasn't married, I'd me on you like white one rice.

    By Blogger Exador, at 6:45 PM  

  • The WaPo energy columnist ( has been talking about oil consumption being down for the last couple of months, as have been the people at the LA Times. I usually try to go right to the horse's mouth, though. According to the EIA,, consumption is down 1.8% overall for the year. I read their weekly report and the overall demand numbers are usually on page 5 or 6. We're importing about 10% less oil than we did this time last year and our inventories are also on the low side. (Oh yeah...I really am that much of a doofus that I read government white papers.)

    The discrepancy you see in the popular media is in calculation method, I think. The US population is continuing to rise, so aggregate consumption of everything having to do with petroleum is probably going to go up -- no duh, people use energy and it's a petroleum-based economy. However, per cap consumption of refined gasoline appears to have responded to price pressure. The real slowdown was in the first quarter (up to 4.5% in California and western states, less so in the south), and now late in the second quarter, I suspect that people got used to it and started driving as much as ever. However, as we start migrating to compact and sub-compact and away from the Hummers-- about 30% of the cars sold last month were in the two bottom categories and that's a number that's rising -- you'll see some further drop in per cap consumption, even though people are driving the same amount.

    I think pushing for greater oil independence would have a similar lever effect and would have the added happy benefit of souping up our R & D and technical fields. Americans are kinghell innovators and I am puzzled when I see us mindlessly sticking with an extractive process a couple of centuries old (with some modest technical improvements) rather than aggressively investing in some practical incremental changes.

    Questions are the engines of intellect, the cerebral machines that transforms energy into motion and curiousity into inquiry. I wish I'd have come up with that on my own, but that's a quote from David Hackett Fischer.

    By Blogger Bridgett, at 1:53 PM  

  • I agree that per capita people are using slightly less fuel. Heck, I can base that anecdotely. That doesn't get to the heart of the matter. We, as a country, are still using more oil. Hopefully, the trend you cited will continue to the point where we can tip the scales. Certainly, the shift to more fuel efficient cars (something that's long overdue) could make a huge difference.

    By Blogger Exador, at 6:56 AM  

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