It never ceases to amaze me that otherwise reasonably intelligent people fail to understand the absurdity of knee-jerk framing of the evils of oil.
A recent rant by Los Alamos resident Seth Steiner (Voices, Jan. 20) against the Aera Energy report is a case in point. It disguises his desire to eliminate drilling and the oil industry. Mr. Steiner does not appreciate his complicity in the problem he cites.
First, has he ever visited an oil field or examined extraction methodologies and the geological structures involved? Has he any knowledge of diatomaceous rocks and the manner in which oil is extracted from them?
Second, I suppose he drives a car ? tires, gas and all. If it’s an electric car, it still has tires and other materials derived from oil.
Let’s do a close investigation of his house. Is there a hair brush, combs, mascara, nail polish, lipstick, perfume, soap, antihistamines, toothpaste, toilet seats, bathtub, aspirin, cortisone, etc.? Probably. And many more. So, out of the 6,000 oil derivatives, he might be using about 500 in his everyday life. Will he give up these items? I’ll leave it to you to guess the answer.
In truth, we are all oil addicts and we want to be rid of that addiction now. However, it might take 20 or even 50 years to finally develop replacements for oil and, possibly, another 30 or 40 years for industry to retool in order to make use of the replacements. It just ain’t gonna happen soon.
The worst of it is that none of the shrill anti-oil voices gives any evidence of understanding that if they lend their voices, energy and money in the private and public sectors to advancing technologies that would replace oil, their crusade might succeed. No. The armchair is the safest place from which to utter outrage.
Now, back to Mr. Steiner’s rant. He talks about risks to drinking water, aquifers, probable well-casing breaches, pipeline leaks and how taxpayers end up footing the bills for cleanups. Sounds like he has vast expertise in risk assessment and general fact-based information. I doubt it.
He alleges that Santa Barbara County is not getting much benefit from oil. But around $300 million comes to the county, made up of $150 million in direct impact, over $50 million in indirect impacts, and more than $100 million in induced impact. Direct impacts are expenditures and investments by oil companies in the local economy. Indirect impacts are purchases of goods or services from local businesses. And induced impacts are additional local spending by industry employees.
Economists commonly use a multiplier effect to figure that for every dollar invested in the county economy, another 95 cents is generated by the activity of suppliers and their employees. If that multiplier is used on the oil and gas industry, the impact could be as great as $400 million.
All of us are complicit and complacent with and about the oil problem. Critics appear to have no strategy to solve and advance a solution. So, let’s do a big magic trick. Let’s assume that the millions of critics were, by a waved wand, changed into millions of constructive voices and pocketbooks in a uniform demand that tech industry genius, government subsidy and private resources be applied to hastening a giant change in the shortest possible time.
If we are the problem, we can and must provide the solution. If climate, water, land, wildlife, air, health and all around us are threatened, shall we await this slow erosion until the crisis is beyond our control?
I would like to hear Mr. Steiner’s solution.