When Barack Obama took the podium at the University of Miami yesterday to give an address on surging fuel prices in America, he seemed to have all the right words. Fuel prices have gone up 3.3% since Wednesday night alone and promise to keep rising as demand increases and chaos in the Middle East continues. The average was $3.61 a gallon yesterday, according to AAA.
Obama stressed that there was no silver bullet for the energy crisis. "Anybody who tells you we can drill our way out of this problem either doesn't know what he's talking about or just isn't telling you the truth," he said to the approbation of the students in the audience.
He also said that we are already drilling -- there are more active oil and gas rigs in the United States than there are in any other place in the world. He said he has secured a deal with Mexico to access more of the oil stores (fossil fuels and otherwise) in the Gulf of Mexico. "Drill, drill, drill" isn't a political policy, he said. It's a bumper sticker.
Again and again, he iterated that we can't continue to pin our future on fossil fuels. Despite his administration's efforts, he said, drilling in the United States won't have a real effect on the oil market. We produce only 2% of the world's oil and consume 20%. As long as we continue down this road, we'll be subject to the vicissitudes of foreign nations, the whims of speculative Wall Street traders, and a host of other variables that influence the price of gasoline worldwide.
Obama said he would put his full attention on "investing in the development of every available source of American-made energy." He called it an "all of the above" policy. This means continued investments in wind power, solar power, and the production of powerful batteries that would reduce fuel consumption by cars, if not eliminate it altogether.
He discussed efforts to cut overall energy consumption, including the strict fuel economy requirements that have been put in place not only for cars, but also heavy-duty trucks. Those requirements will raise the average mile per gallon rating to around 55 by the middle of the next decade. The requirements, along with more efficient means of heating our homes and powering our lights, will lower US oil consumption by 200 barrels a day by that time, "hopefully sooner."
He discussed his administration's move to bring together the brightest minds our country has to offer -- scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs -- to increase the number of cars using cleaner, more abundant natural gases. "We don't have to import natural gas. We can export it." These people are also working to find a way to use energy from algae to fuel cars, jets, and more.
Obama promised that, as long as he was president, he would not walk away from the promise of clean energy, regardless of the position of Congress. "We could replace up to 17% of the oil we import for transportation with fuel that we grow right here in the United States," he said, just moments after saying dependence on foreign oil is on the decline.
A stronger green market sector means a stronger job market and economy, a better future for the United States, and a stronger overall future. But getting the job done "will require all of us as citizens -- Democrats, Republicans, and everybody in between -- to do our part. If we do, the solution is in our reach, and I know we can do it."
I cannot comment on the plausibility of Obama's rhetoric. As for the emotion he engendered, I call it hope.