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Dear Mr. President:

Dear Mr. President,

How’s it going? It’s me, Stallion. We’ve never been properly introduced, but I did shake your hand once on a rope line. You have very nice teeth.

I know you are very concerned about both the faltering economy and your faltering reelection chances. (If you’re not, I can introduce you to plenty of Democrats who are.) The fact is, though, that nothing you’ve proposed – or that the Republicans have proposed, for that matter – would do anything to kickstart America’s economic engine. Getting reelected with a nominal unemployment rate of 9.1 percent is next to impossible.

And the reality is actually far, far worse than what the numbers say.

Self-employed and underemployed people are also suffering through the worst economic conditions in over 75 years. You can continue to blame it all on George Bush and make your base happy, but that’s kind of wearing thin for the non-ideological Americans who constitute the majority of voters, and they’re the ones who will ultimately decide whether to give you four more years. Right now, they blame the people they think can do something about the problem but, for some reason, don’t seem to be doing it.

For better or for worse, that’s you.

Is that fair? Is that appropriate? Probably not. But that’s the perception, and in politics, perception is reality. You need to accept that, suck it up, and do something about it.

So how do you fix it?

Well, your ideas kind of suck, but you already knew that. Nobody expects any piece of your two goofy proposals to go anywhere, including you. They’re cravenly political, and maybe you think that’s the best you can do. (Case in point: we have the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world, Mr. President. How is RAISING it going to prevent the hemorrhaging of jobs overseas?)

But I digress. Debating the finer points of your D.O.A. proposals is a waste of time. Regardless, most people will tell you there’s no quick fix.

Most people, however, are wrong.

Take a look at North Dakota. Their unemployment rate is 3.2%. Their economy is booming. Why?

One word.


You heard me. Oil. Fossil fuels. Black gold. Texas Tea. Dinosaur turds.

The price of oil is skyrocketing, and the Glenn Becks of the world are telling us the world is running out and that we’ve reached Peak Oil, which means inevitable economic decline, civil unrest, cats and dogs sleeping together, the works. But that’s nonsense. There is enough oil in the Four Corners area, for instance, to fuel the entire world for generations. And it can be extracted for about forty dollars a barrel. With the world oil price well above twice that, it might be time to give oil shale another look.

That’s what’s going on in North Dakota. They’re fracking for oil like gangbusters, and they’re employing new techniques that are far more environmentally friendly than the old-school oil derricks you see in all those Bugs Bunny cartoons. New processes produce less CO2 than traditional techniques, use minimal amounts of water, and actually reclaim the areas that are drilled after the oil is removed. Expanding domestic oil production would make us energy independent, create scads of jobs, and free us from having to trade with countries that want to blow us up.

I know, I know. You don’t like oil.

That’s an understatement. In the first few weeks of your administration, you cancelled 77 oil and gas leases in Utah alone. These leases had undergone seven years of rigorous environmental scrutiny, but, overnight, you pulled the plug, threw thousands of people out of work, and depressed the economy of eastern Utah with the stroke of a pen.

I know, I know. You want green energy instead.

That’s why you dumped billions of dollars in stimulus money on companies that are incapable of producing green energy – or jobs, for that matter. See, green energy is wonderful, but it doesn’t really exist yet. (Solar, wind, et al aren’t even close to ready to pick up the slack.) I’m confident that green energy will exist someday, because even the government can’t stifle innovation forever. In the meantime, we need oil. And the US has it in abundance. So why not drill for it?

Global warming? Please.

Let’s assume, just for argument’s sake, that Al Gore isn’t full of as much crap as he demonstrably is. If we don’t drill for oil, does that solve our problem? Not at all. It means other countries drill for oil instead of us and produce more carbon emissions than we would if we were to do the same. It means the oil costs more and is dirtier to the planet, but it’s not happening in our backyard, so we can ignore it. That’s idiocy.

You also have to measure, too, the reliability of climate models to predict possible suffering in over a century’s time with the pressing concerns of the now. We need oil. We need jobs. We need economic activity. You can make that happen virtually overnight by unshackling the economy and letting people get back to work. The green jobs will come as the technology comes. If it makes you feel better, you can promise all the tax incentives and such that you like, but the green jobs are going to get here when they get here.

In the meantime, there’s oil.

Please follow my advice, Mr. President. It comes from a good place. Neither of us really wants Rick Perry in the White House.

Your pal,


P.S. You wear very distinguished ties.

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  1. Utilizing our domestic oil reserves seems like a no-brainer. I can’t fathom why we continue to import so heavily.

    Another idea (that would actually benefit the economy and the environment) is to somehow speed the transition to natural gas vehicles. Of course there are some vehicles already that run on CNG, but relatively few. We supposedly have huge reserves of natural gas, and it has so many benefits over using traditional gasoline.

    I believe Honda is the only manufacturer that currently produces a CNG vehicle for personal use in the US. There should be an untapped market for someone to develop an economically priced bi-fuel personal vehicle.

  2. Please substantiate: “There is enough oil in the Four Corners area, for instance, to fuel the entire world for generations. ”

    Not according to this:

    I’d think that, if there really was that much oil available, they’d say something about it. 7 to 35 million barrels of oil isn’t all that much, and definitely not enough to “fuel the entire world for generations”.

    Perhaps you’re referring to various shale plays in the area. Here’s a handy map:

    Let’s assume that one estimate for the Mancos oil shale (located in the San Juan Basin) is correct: 59 billion barrels available, with 3 billion able to be extracted via “fracking” (source via google cache to get beyond paywall: That’s definitely a lot of oil (world-wide demand in 2006 was 85 million barrels per day), but even if all 59 billion barrels could be extracted that still would only supply the world for about two years.

      • “Vinegar has developed a cutting-edge technology that, according to Shell, will produce large quantities of high-quality oil without ravaging the local environment – and be profitable with prices around $30 a barrel.”

        I’ll believe it when I see it. Claims like this have been made for decades and so far nothing has come of it. It’s still incredibly harmful to the environment, wastes water that we don’t have in that region, and not very profitable.

        • I used to do consulting work for a company called Red Leaf Resources. They developed a $25 per barrel technology that using relatively little water – about a fifth of a barrel for every barrel of oill. They would essentially dig a pit, boil the shale, and let the oil leech out. They would capture and bury their carbon emissions and then reclaim the land to its original state, complete with vegetation.

          They’re almost out of business now because they can’t get this administration to grant them a land lease.

          • I’m not sure I buy some of their claims. They are still using open surface mining, which is incredibly destructive to the land.


            They claim that they will “reclaim” the land, but that will not really put back all the biodiversity that was originally there. This seems like an empty promise to me.

            They also claim they use less water (1/5 barrel per barrel of oil), and that’s good, but it can still amount to lots more water than we have in these areas of Utah where shale is located, given the millions of barrels of oil they want to extract.

            Finally, they claim that they have zero impact on groundwater, which I find hard to believe. Once you remove the clay barriers for boiling the oil, then the groundwater actually moves more freely through the mined shale, allowing it to leach out the harmful substances and pollute the surrounding area.

            From my point of view, this is a typical oil shale developer claiming they’ve figured everything out and it will be completely harmless for the environment and profitable for investors too. Since their whole goal right now is to attract investors, I’m skeptical of the claims they make. I’d want to see an independent, scientific assessment of their process.

  3. We have been fighting this fight here in Vernal for years. I think what makes me the angriest is the govt. constantly declaring land “protected” thanks to special interest groups ie environmentalists. We are shooting ourselves in the foot (not to mention everywhere else) when we buy our oil elsewhere and not look for it on our own land. America is a land of resources and you are absolutely right when you point out that other countries will take less responsibility to protect the land they drill.

  4. I thought people resort to facking for gas. The pipelines that occur naturally underground. And that’s why they won’t you to call first and tell them where you want to dig.