THE BLOG

Up in Smoke -- The Insanity of Our Energy Policy

03/27/2011 03:14 pm ET | Updated May 27, 2011

The energy picture in this country is fast becoming ridiculous. While people are suffering to fill their tanks with $4 dollar a gallon gasoline and small businesses avoid new hiring on the back of rising energy costs, we are literally throwing away our domestic energy supplies -- just throwing it away.

It's sad but it's true. The newest and most exciting domestic find of crude oil in this country is in the Bakken region of South Dakota, in the middle of nowhere on the Northeastern corner of the state.

It may not look like much on the map, but the Bakken represents an amazing find of conventional crude oil and natural gas: Surveys expect the Bakken to yield as much as the total proven reserves of crude oil in the entire United States, as much as 20 billion barrels.

So far, many of the oil E&P companies rushing to exploit the resources in the Bakken have been smaller independent companies you may not have heard of before, companies with names like Continental Resources, Whiting Petroleum and EOG.

But here's the incredible outrage that's going on in the Bakken. While these companies are drilling, they are finding equally abundant supplies of crude oil and natural gas. But because crude prices are over $100 a barrel and represent a fantastic profit compared to the natural gas that is pricing at $4, they are literally burning the natural gas away at the wellhead -- just throwing it away.

This activity, called "flaring" of wells, has reached almost 30% of all the gas being found in North Dakota -- and the waste from flaring wells is increasing all around the country. It's just more profitable to throw away the gas to get at the more expensive crude oil.

What kind of energy policy do we have, that allows an economy to labor under Wall Street determined gasoline and heating oil prices that are through the roof, while we just discard and unnecessarily also pollute the air with another energy source that is cheaper, greener, and more plentiful?

When will we wake up as a nation and force Washington to craft an energy policy that makes such a ridiculous practice unnecessary and illegal?

This is just one example, but an excellent one, of how insane our domestic energy picture is fast becoming: crude oil prices continue to rise and we continue to pay, while our entirely domestic, entirely cheap, entirely cleaner and entirely more ample energy source gets turned into smoke.

It's time to stop the insanity.