Oil Field Shutdown a Boon for Alternative Energy

With the shutdown of Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay oil fields, the nation, particularly the West Coast, could be faced with sharply increasing oil prices:

The average U.S. retail price of a gallon of unleaded, regular gasoline was $3.036 on today — near its all-time high of $3.057, reached Sept. 5 after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

“I suspect that record will fall in the next 48 hours,” said Tom Kloza, an analyst at Oil Price Information Service in Wall, N.J., noting that pump prices around the country are likely to rise 5 to 10 cents a gallon.

— “Oil prices spike on news of Alaskan field shutdown”, Associated Press, August 7, 2006

My only reaction to this is positive. With oil prices pushing higher, the nature of our oil addiction will become more and more painfully obvious to those who would deny it. This is the perfect opportunity to inform people of and adopt alternative energy technologies, and as gas prices climb higher, awareness must inevitably increase. Part of the problem is due to politicians who turn a blind eye towards a sound energy policy, but part of it is also due to our own blindness. But let’s not take this time to point fingers. The best time to act is now:

  • Encourage legislators to adopt a coherent alternative energy policy on a state-by-state and nationwide basis. Movements such as the Apollo Alliance have started this, but it takes a grassroots campaign to truly do this well.
  • Whenever possible, decrease your energy footprint by turning off lights and unneeded appliances. Those lights you see on your appliances when they’re off indicate that they still draw energy – turn appliances off at the surge protector or unplug them entirely.
  • Demand the adoption of better mass transit systems that decrease or eliminate the need for cars in city cores.
  • Work with friends and neighbors to help them better understand what they can do to help decrease their energy bills.

Energy independence begins with individual actions at home and grows from there. This oil field shutdown offers another clear reason why we cannot continue to depend on oil – foreign or otherwise – to support our lifestyles.