When I hear some politicians talk about "energy independence" today I don'tbelieve a word they say. How could they be serious about America's energy independence when they still discount developing abundant fossil fuel, nuclear, and other energy resources right here at home? Yes, that includes drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and elsewhere - maybe even here in Vermont. Yes, Isaid drilling in Vermont.
When I think of the term "energy independence," Icertainly don't limit my thinking to simply "green," renewable resources. I am not that narrow minded. Iconsider renewables, fossil fuels, hydro, geothermal, and nuclear fuels as part of the bigger picture - all important stepping stones on the painful but necessary path to U.S. energy independence.
As far as our national energy policy goes, when only narrow political agendas are being considered, well, I distrust both the agendas and the folks proposing them.
Take Vermont's congressman, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D). He is outraged about rising gasoline prices. Me, too. But, instead of being open minded about all the energy options here at home, he proposes, instead, to tap the rainy day strategic oil reserve - yet what about drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and elsewhere? The idea appears far off the Congressman's radar screen.
So, in my estimation, Congressman Welch isn't the least bit serious about reducing America's dependence on foreign oil.
Did you know that Vermont has considerable promise as a source for natural gas and possibly some petroleum reserves? Since the mid 1950s, over two dozen energy concerns have probed our area for natural gas and oil deposits.
This mid-20th century exploration boom was focused in the Champlain Valley lowlands along the Vermont border with Quebec; the technical results of several geological surveys were - and remain - highly encouraging. What limited more fine-tuned exploration here was the drilling technology of the era. The area was last probed seriously during the 1970s. Since then, however, drilling technologies have improved tenfold with newer, stronger alloys and synthetics along with more sensitive instrumentation.
Even today, natural gas occurs regularly in a number of deep water wells in northern Vermont. This indicates a gas potential that deserves more serious investigation using 21st-century technology. Some commercial-level, gas-producing wells have already been drilled in the St. Lawrence lowlands, south of Montreal, by Canadian concerns. There's strong evidence that these same deposits underlie nearby Vermont and New York.
The basin of ancient Cambrian and Ordovician age sedimentary rock in the northern Champlain Valley is the key terrain feature that warrants a resumption of oil and gas exploration.
Although only traces of crude oil have been found in Vermont so far (using 1960s detection technology), several natural gas wells of commercial potential have been reported, yet the focus on drilling turned elsewhere. Well, it's time to look closer to home agian and resume the exploration of oil and gas here in Vermont.
In 1973, geologist Lincoln Page of the U.S Geological Survey reported that northern Vermont has significant uranium deposits, too. He said abundant uranium also occurs in southern Vermont. So, while nuclear power remains controversial, there are ample uranium ore deposits to mine and process for use in reactors right here at home, if needed.
And since 1999, we have learned that Vermont might be a good location for deep-drilling to access geothermal energy. We have the technology today to drill far into the crust to tap the limitless heat of the inner Earth.
So, the Green Mountain State is good for more than just wood, wind, solar and biomass energy resources. Vermont is a multi-faceted energy diamond that is worth exploring more. So what are we waiting for?
There are always risks in developing and using intensive energy resources, but U.S. energy independence will take vision and require some risks; the alternatives to the nation are even costlier.
Yes, we have the energy. Now let's get to work.