Friday, December 4th, 2009
Inside-the-beltway types contend with daily acronym overload, a non-stop alphabet soup denoting different agencies, policies and programs. Compounding the confusion for plastics industry professionals is that there’s often overlap with our own initiatives (OCS, for example, is short for both Operation Clean Sweep — an SPI environmental stewardship program — and the energy-rich offshore area known as the Outer Continental Shelf).
CRS stands for Congressional Research Service and, while largely unknown outside the world of public policy crunchers, they’re the legislative branch’s non-partisan research arm, functioning as a sort of in-house think tank for Congress. And one of its recent studies stood out from the myriad other government reports that SPI regularly reviews and digests.
On the subject of natural resource availability and cost, today’s popular media often paints a gloomy picture of our nation’s future, suggesting a bleak and desolate America marked by scarcity, sky-high prices, rationing — an overall diminution of prosperity.
CRS says otherwise.
In a recent report, CRS puts U.S. combined reserves of natural gas, oil and coal ahead of every other country in the world at 1321 billion barrels of oil equivalent. And this doesn’t even encompass reserves in known but harder-to-access resources such as oil shale. Russia comes in a close second, at 1248 billion, but then the field drops off dramatically. Saudi Arabia? Third, at just 543 billion. China’s next at 494.
The technological know-how exists to develop these resources efficiently, cleanly and safely. Skeptical? Think about the offshore platforms that withstood Hurricane Katrina.
Long story short: the U.S. can create its own energy future. The only question is, will we? For our industry – dependent on these resources for both feedstocks and fuel – it’s a question that can have only one answer.