07/22/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Oil Reaches Historic Highs While OPEC Holds Us in Contempt

An acquaintance, knowledgeable, observant and oft-traveled passed along to me his observations. He noted friends in OPEC countries conveyed to him a keen sense of incredulousness about the US. He reported this is what they are saying, and I paraphrase:

"Let's see if I understand this correctly? You, in the United States, wont drill for oil on 2000 acres in a wilderness of 20 million acres, that no one has seen, nor probably will ever see, but you want me to drill in my backyard, have my kids smell flared gas, pollute my soil where our schools are, and then send you more oil at lower prices?

You won't drill off the coastlines, far enough away for anyone to see, but you wanted me to increase production from wells in my backyard? Now how about if we sent you a population based, pro-rata share of production. Why should you get more than China or India on a pro rata basis?" *

Tough? Yes! But it is the last sentence that is the nub of the issue. Our profligate consumption has denied us all moral high ground for a meaningful voice in this debate.

Neither our citizenry nor those in government has petitioned or acted to seriously cut back this nation's voracious oil consumption, the largest by far on the planet, and an incalculable embarrassment in a world becoming keenly aware of the profound dangers of global warming. No, we have gone one step further. In shameful contrast to the massive commitments to expanding rail infrastructure throughout the world including high speed rail links in Europe, in China, and in Japan, our government has overseen the virtual dismantling of much of our national passenger rail service thereby enabling the oil industry and the automobile industry to better hold each of us hostage to their bottom line or driving in their four wheel klunkers.

While we are being held in increasing disdain by those within the OPEC cartel, we are being viewed with alarm and growing anger by much of the rest of the world. To a majority of oil consumers throughout the planet, oil is considered a progressively limited resource, and we in this country as unwilling to pull our oar in its production nor, so to speak, limit our overdrive in its consumption.

*Undoubtedly words to this effect may well have been promulgated elsewhere, but this was an especially pointed and succinct summation and wanted to pass it along to bestir self-reflection and possible commentary