Now that one of the major fomenters of unrest in the Middle East is dead and gone, will refilling our cars be less expensive?
Probably not. Though we have dealt with the world’s most famous terrorist, we have yet to neutralize the real oil czars: the polar bear and a lizard.
In November 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated 187,157 square miles in Alaska as critical habit land for the supposedly endangered polar bear. “Polarbearlandia” is now the third largest state in the U.S. – bigger than even California – and it is also incredibly oil rich.
Unfortunately, American oil companies aren’t allowed to tap this domestic wealth. By drilling for oil in the region we could potentially push the world’s 25,000 polar bears into extinction. Or so the Wildlife Service says. The Alaska Oil & Gas Association has filed a challenge to this limitation in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska, but in the meantime, the land remains off-limits.
Many miles south, the dunes sagebrush lizard – though significantly smaller and uglier than the polar bear – is similarly jeopardizing domestic oil drilling. The lizard’s land, an area of Eastern New Mexico and Western Texas known as the Permian Basin, produces nearly 20 percent of the country’s crude oil. But local environmentalists insist that this high production must be reduced in order to save the lizard population. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed to this effect against the regional oil companies.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek these lawsuits are none too popular. It seems the local human inhabitants care more about continued economic development than they do the continued multiplication of their scaled cohabitants.
But victory for the lizards could also spell disaster for Americans outside of the region. If the Permian Basin is closed to drilling, and Polearbearlandia remains closed, and if the government continues to drag its feet on reissuing Gulf South drilling permits, then domestic oil production will decrease drastically. Such a dramatic decrease in supply will lead to an increase in price. Not only does this mean that you won’t be able to refill your SUV for under $70, it means that more money will go to Middle Eastern autocrats and terrorists – the very people who America is fighting against.