In President Obama's address over two decades later, he stated, "For decades we have talked and talked about the need to end America's century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires."
Petroleum has been our nation's leading source of energy since the mid-1900's. And despite the efforts made President Carter and many others, it remains our top energy source today. Dr. Richard Erdlac, Midland-based geoscientist and energy consultant, explains why, "Oil has been a miracle energy resource for decades and we are used to it. It is going to be difficult to move a way from that in an easy fashion."
But according the President, the transition needs to happen now. During last week's presidential address, Obama said, "Last year, the House of Representatives acted on these principles by passing a strong and comprehensive energy and climate bill."
And now, another piece of legislation is on the table. Before the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf, fears over cap and trade legislation had simmered. But now, fears are as strong, if not stronger, than they've ever been before. And according to Dr. Erdlac, oil companies aren't the only ones who need to be concerned. "I think our country would be in very serious difficulty. There would be some social unrest. Primarily because we wouldn't have as readily available energy. We take it for granted."
The main concern is that there is currently no alternative source that can produce as much energy as oil in as little time. "Many people speak in the terms of thousands of gallons, say of biofuels, they can produce over a period of time. We are using thousands of barrels of oil. Many thousands of barrels of oil per day. A barrel of oil is 42 gallons. So do the math, and you really have to look at what is the feasibility of being able to produce that amount," stresses Dr. Erdlac.
And while renewable energy sources, like wind and solar power, should be used, Dr. Erdlac explains why they simply can't take the place of petroleum. "There are times when there are clouds. At night time when you don't have sunlight, and (there are) days when there is no wind. Even in West Texas, there are days when there's no wind and those turbines don't turn."