August/September 2006
By Alan W. Dowd

Running on Full
According to research conducted  by the NationalCenter for Policy Analysis (NCPA), “There is no evidence that the world, in general, or the United States, in particular, is running out of fossil fuels.” The very opposite may be more accurate:

-In 1874, geologists in Pennsylvania (then the major oil-producing state) predicted there was only four year’s worth of oil remaining in the US.

-Yet by 1945, proven reserves of oil in the US amounted to 20 billion barrels.

-Between 1945 and 1994, the US produced 135 billion barrels of oil domestically—“more than six times the entire amount known to exist in 1945.”

-Today, US reserves alone could sustain domestic oil needs for 38 to 75 years.

The same trend can be tracked globally:

-In 1920, the US Geological Survey estimated total world oil supplies at 60 billion barrels.

-In 1950, the experts pushed that number to 600 billion.

-By 1990, world oil supplies were estimated at 2 trillion barrels. By the mid-1990s, the estimate was higher yet—2.4 trillion.

-And by 2000, it was even higher—3 trillion barrels of oil supply.

The reason for this constant upward readjustment is technology. NCPA notes that before the first US well was drilled in 1859, “petroleum supplies were limited to crude oil that oozed to the surface.” But thanks to technological advances, oil is being discovered in new places; and trapped oil is being extracted from old places, such as tar sands in Canada and shale and rock in the western US. In fact, NCPA’s research found that the global oil-shale base could produce as much as 14 trillion barrels of oil. Find out more at http://www.ncpa.org/.

Post-Katrina Pet Projects
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, state and federal emergency-response agencies are developing plans to make sure dogs and cats—yes, dogs and cats—are evacuated from disaster areas. 

According to the Institute for Preventive Strategies (IPS), disaster-response officials believe that “many people are reluctant to evacuate their properties because they do not want to abandon their animals.” In addition, evacuees regularly return to disaster areas prematurely in order to search for their pets, creating safety issues.

The flood- and fire-plagued state of California has created CARES (short for California Animal Response in Emergency System) to coordinate local, state and federal efforts to evacuate pets. Likewise, measures mandating pet-evacuation plans are working their way through the Louisiana legislature. One bill would mandate that each parish designate pet drop-off sites and require that all shelters (for people) accept service animals, such as seeing-eye dogs.

In addition, IPS reports that Congress is mulling legislation that will shift up to “75 percent of the cost of animal evacuations” to FEMA.

Proxy Vote
Mike McNamara won a seat on the city council in Grand Forks, N.D.—a feat hardly worthy of national attention. That is, until you hear where and how he did it: McNamara is a US Marine serving in Iraq. In fact, when the Grand Forks Herald emailed him to get a quote about his easy win in the five-way race for Ward 2, McNamara was getting ready for a raid in the restive city of Fallujah.

McNamara, whose wife reportedly went door-to-door to campaign in his absence, is expected to return to North Dakota in September. The Grand Forks Herald reports that the Marines in McNamara's unit are now humming “Hail to the Chief” whenever the new councilman “enters the combat operations center at CampFallujah.”

As a contributing editor to The American Legion, Dowd writes columns and news briefs on national security, foreign affairs and U.S. politics each month for the magazine's "Rapid Fire" section.