Two days ago, British newspaper The Independent reported that a secret cabal of oil-producing Arab states, Russia, and China had conspired to dump the dollar for oil trading, a move which would have seriously weakened our currency and influence abroad.  Many publications picked up on this report, written by the notoriously unreliable Robert Fisk, and a round of denials promptly appeared from the named states.  Left unexplained by Fisk and the Independent was how these same states, with massive holdings in the dollar (especially China), would benefit in the short or long term by attacking it.

However, it once again showed the risk that the US has in relying so heavily on foreign oil when we have resources at home that could replace a significant amount of it.  Sarah Palin made that her message of the day from her Facebook platform yesterday:

All of this is a result of our out-of-control debt. This is why we need to rein in spending, and this is also why we need energy independence. A weakened dollar means higher commodity prices. This will make it more difficult to pay our bills – including the bill to import oil.

In his book Architects of Ruin, Peter Schweizer points out that the Obama administration is focusing primarily on “green energy,” while ignoring our need to develop our domestic conventional energy resources.[5] We’re ignoring the looming crisis caused by our dependence on foreign oil. Because we’re dependent on foreign nations for our oil, we’re also at their mercy if they decide to dump the dollar as their trade currency. We can’t allow ourselves to be so vulnerable to the whims of foreign nations. That’s why we must develop our own domestic supplies of oil and gas.

Though the chant of “Drill, baby, drill” was much derided, it expressed the need to confront this issue head-on before it reaches a crisis point.

Bottom line: let’s stop digging ourselves into debt and start drilling for energy independence.

The year since the last oil shock has pushed this from the front burner for most Americans as prices have stabilized to about two dollars a gallon less than the shock’s peak.  The health-care debate has taken its place, and not for bad reasons, either, as it posits a government-mandate model that has allowed our oil reserves to sit untapped for decades.  Perhaps the upcoming debate on cap-and-trade will allow this issue to arise once again, although the terms of that debate may force it to share time with issues of taxes, costs, and further mandates.

That would be a shame, because this remains a priority for our economic recovery, and Palin shrewdly seizes the opportunity to raise the issue at a timely moment.  We could create tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of high-paying industrial jobs by opening the coastlines for drilling, most of which would be union labor.  It would take a few years to start benefiting fully from the production, but we could be well on our way to keeping dollars at home rather than sending them abroad for our energy needs before then.  It would make energy less expensive at a time when we need to reduce energy costs to stimulate the economy in a real way.

Even if we have forgotten the pain at the pump, Drill Here – Drill Now is just as important as it was in 2008 — and considering the state of our economy, perhaps even more important than it was then.