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Raymond J. Learsy Headshot

Obama Reconsidering Offshore Drilling. An Opportunity to Redefine the Election

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That Barack Obama is now reconsidering supporting offshore drilling is opening an opportunity for him to redefine the election in a profoundly significant way. At issue is a concept that has not been discussed in political debate, but clearly set forth, could well have the support, even the great enthusiasm of a majority of Americans.

We as a nation, for good or bad, have lost complete trust in the oil industry to develop our natural resources on federal lands or at sea in a way that benefits all Americans. As presently constituted the oil/concession system is an abomination that has benefited virtually no one but the oil companies at great expense to the nation as a whole. Given the quarterly earnings just announced by Exxon Mobil, Shell and on, as mentioned here in previous posts, the oil companies have in effect become toll takers offering the nation little in return from their bonanza other than higher dividends to their shareholders while millions of Americans will be freezing in their homes this winter barely able to meet their heating bills and/or cutting back their food budgets to pay for the gas they need to go to work. This while oil companies rake in ever more billions selling back to Americans their own patrimony at rapacious prices.

Clearly this aberration of a loaded system benefiting only one element of society, the oil industry, with its powerful and moneyed interests and influence must stop. Drilling offshore the American coast on federally controlled areas is the place to start.

This is the moment for the aspiring next President to commit to establishing A National Oil Trust! It could readily be modeled after the world's third largest energy exporter, Norway's Petroleum Directorate. The Directorate's stated objective is to contribute and create the greatest public value for Norwegian Society from Norway's Oil and Gas deposits. Profits from its oil and gas operations accrue to the Norwegian Government's Pension Fund and is invested in conservative bonds and investments. Were we to have a similar arrangement the trust could and should be mandated to direct its revenues toward developing alternative energy sources and to expand mass transportation thereby becoming a cornerstone of a viable program toward breaking our dangerous dependency on fossil fuels.

Such an enterprise would allay immediately the suspicion that President Bush's oil cronies would be the real beneficiaries from opening these territories to development rather than the nation as a whole. It would assure that this treasure remains in the public domain rather than appearing as further billions on the bottom line of oil company earnings.

If Norway can do it with pride and a sense of national accomplishment we can do it as well. It would redefine the election and bring an issue into play about which many more of us than we realize would respond to with passion and commitment.