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2012-03-14

Michael Klare: GOP Promises of Lower Gas Costs Belied by Dwindling Supply of World’s Oil

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We look at rising fuel costs, one of the major issues raised by the Republican contenders in the 2012 presidential campaign. Since the beginning of the year, the average of price of a gallon of regular gasoline has jumped 16 percent to more than $3.80. Earlier this week, President Obama partially blamed his Republican rivals, saying one reason for the increase is rumors of war with Iran. Meanwhile, Republican candidates have used the spike in gas prices to attack President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline and his stance on expanded domestic oil drilling. Our guest, Michael Klare, says oil prices are destined to remain high for a long time to come because most of the remaining oil on the planet is no longer easily accessible. Klare’s latest book is "The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources." [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum continues to cement his status as the Republican field’s leading conservative with two primary wins in the Deep South. On Tuesday, he edged out Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney to win primaries in Alabama and Mississippi. Romney, meanwhile, finished third in both Alabama and Mississippi but picked up wins in Hawaii and American Samoa.

Well, we end today’s broadcast looking at one of the major issues raised by the Republican contenders: the rising price of gas. Since the beginning of the year, the average of price of a gallon of regular gas has jumped 16 percent to just over $3.80, the tops $4 a gallon in many parts of the country. The price of gas is shaping up to be a major issue in the 2012 presidential campaign. Earlier this week, President Obama partially blamed his Republican rivals, saying one reason for the increase is rumors of war with Iran. Meanwhile, Republican candidates have used the spike in gas to attack President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline and his stance on expanded domestic oil drilling.

Michael Klare is our guest. He has written a new book. It’s called The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources.

You say that the price of gas is going to be high for a very long time, Michael. Explain.

MICHAEL KLARE: Yes, Amy. I say that because we’ve become increasingly dependent on oil that’s from very hard-to-reach, difficult-to-reach places, geopolitically, geologically, geographically—

AMY GOODMAN: Michael, Michael, we’re going to interrupt because we can’t understand what you’re saying. He’s speaking to us from Reno, Nevada. We’re going to try to improve the sound. But let me go to a clip of Newt Gingrich from his speech to supporters on Super Tuesday. He promised energy independence from the Middle East, if he were to win the presidency.

NEWT GINGRICH: And I want to say to all of you, any of you who have friends anywhere in the country, if you can email them, if you can post on Facebook something as simple as "Newt equals $2.50-a-gallon gasoline," if you can go to Twitter and put in "#$2.50 gas." I mean, we run a very inexpensive, very straightforward, reach-every-single-person campaign. You know, I just want to give you one example of how profoundly different we are both from the other candidates and from the President, one that I would love to debate this president about, and that’s the one that a number of you are holding signs for. I want us to have an American energy policy so no president will ever again bow to a Saudi king.

AMY GOODMAN: President Obama was asked about rising gas prices at his press conference last week.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: What I have also said about gas prices is that there is no silver bullet, and the only way we are going to solve this problem over the medium and long term is with an all-of-the-above strategy that says we’re going to increase production, which has happened; we are going to make sure that we are conserving energy—that’s why we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars, which will save consumers about $1.7 trillion and take about 12 billion barrels of oil offline, which will help to reduce prices; and we’re going to develop clean energy technologies that allow us to continue to use less oil.

AMY GOODMAN: That was President Obama. Michael Klare, your response?

MICHAEL KLARE: You know, my response is that we’re becoming increasingly reliant on very hard-to-reach, tough oil, Arctic oil, deep offshore oil, oil derived from very difficult geological formations like shale oil, and oil from putrid petroleum, like tar sands. This is going to be extremely expensive to develop, and it’s environmentally hazardous. There will be more disasters, so the costs will rise. So we’re going to have permanent high prices as a result of this. This is not a temporary phenomenon; this is a product of a fundamental change in the geology of oil and the fact that we’ve run out of all of the easy oil in the world.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you think needs to happen now? And what about this whole discussion? I mean, the Republicans have locked on to how high the price of gas is. What do you think President Obama needs to do?

MICHAEL KLARE: President Obama has to be honest with the public. There is no solution to high prices, other than a change in the behavior of our energy use, because there is no cheap oil left on the planet. We have to begin a process of converting to alternative forms of energy or alternative forms of transportation. And he has to be honest. Now, the Republicans are not going to make it easy for him, but I think the public will be understanding if they’re told the truth. The days of easy oil are over. And drilling in the Arctic is never going to bring back cheap oil.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, the answer is? Where do we go from here, Michael Klare?

MICHAEL KLARE: Where we go from here is conversion to alternative forms of energy, of course, conservation, and increased reliance on public transportation. You might as well invest in public transportation, because that’s going to bring us lower prices of oil faster than investing in exceedingly costly drilling rigs in the Arctic or in two miles of water.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Michael Klare, I want to thank you for being with us. I hope we have an extended conversation about this when you’re back from your book tour. He’s speaking to us from Reno, Nevada, but he’s actually a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College in western Mass. His new book is called The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources.

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