Paris Hilton's Energy Policy Is All Wrong

By Tyghe Trimble | August 6, 2008 2:20 pm

oil gusherAs John McCain and Barack Obama aim for the White House, the fights over experience and age, the war in Iraq and terrorism, and the economy and budget-balancing drag on. But whenever a serious science and technology debate comes up —including education, medicine, and energy—we here at DISCOVER perk up. Even if that debate is being furthered by Paris Hilton.

Granted, the point of Paris’ most recent (and perhaps only) talk about energy policy on is not to start an energy debate that has teeth, but to make a humorous entry into presidential politics with faux-serious solutions. If this is an effective way to get people to discuss energy policy—an admittedly wonkish and often boring topic—so be it.

And now, let’s discuss Paris Hilton’s “energy plan.”

First of all, Hilton is taking on oil, not energy. She is not discussing nuclear, coal, wind, or solar—just the stuff that is turned into plastic water bottles, heats our homes, and makes cars go “vroom”. So this is not a comprehensive energy plan, but a look at lowering gas prices and shedding dependence on foreign oil.

To accomplish this, says Hilton, we must first immediately “do limited offshore drilling with strict environmental oversight.” And here the problems begin. No one thinks that offshore drilling can happen overnight. The DOE estimated that if the drilling moratorium was lifted in 2007, it could take until 2030 for “a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices” to occur. Even if we found a way to speed this up, there is also currently a world-shortage of drill-ships—which, according to the New York Times, are booked for jobs around the world for the next five years.

In short, offshore drilling is a 20-plus-year plan. The temporary quick fix that Paris is looking for would more likely come with successful bartering with OPEC, or tapping into our 700-plus million barrels of U.S. oil reserves, an idea proposed by Barack Obama that raises some energy security concerns and still might not significantly lower prices at the pump.

So while this “quick-fix” to oil is happening, says Paris, we give Detroit tax incentives to make hybrid and electric cars. “That way the offshore drilling carries us [obviously not; see above] until the new technologies kick in,” says Paris, “which will then create new jobs and energy [actually, oil] independence.” It seems Paris has tripped upon a promising idea here. Tax incentives to promote hybrid and electric cars to speed up a much-needed fleet changeover from inefficient SUVs and trucks to carbon-friendly, gas-sipping hybrids is a plan that has been much discussed by policy makers, and even some parts of the auto industry are rooting for them. Of course, setting higher fuel standards can have a similar effect without the cost to taxpayers, forcing automakers to pull marketing dollars away from inefficient gas guzzlers in order to push hybrid and electric vehicles as the U.S. fleet transitions.

Paris’ “energy policy” thus ends here—with no talk of biofuels from algae and waste, the solar hydrogen economy, or natural gas to replace oil. And certainly no talk of wind power, fixing our faltering grid, solar farms, nuclear power, clean coal, and carbon sequestration.

To give credit where it’s due, the idea of having Paris address even only a bit of national energy policy is a respectable retaliation to an unauthorized cameo in a McCain attack ad. But next time, the script writers should do just a bit more digging and get their facts right. For a truly comprehensive, well-thought-out policy to spill from the mouth of the same heiress who sang “Stars are Blind”—now, that would be comic gold.

MORE ABOUT: biofuel, energy, politics, solar, wind
  • Mark Keith

    I think your opinion is pretty ridiculous! Having worked in a major oil company I am sure, with enough support from the Government, we can (easily) extract more oil (For example the oil sand from Canada). Biofuels are still a relatively early stage and I think Paris’ opinion is completely valid.

  • Ryan

    Oh right, “we” can extract more oil from Canada’s oil sand. Is it even worth mentioning that “we” extract ~1.25M barrels a day and that this production is most likely going to increase? What was your job, mail clerk?

  • sean hayes

    The person ho wrote this article has no sense of humour! Paris only did this ad, becuase she was fetured in a “Celeb” attack ad done by McCain….what a waste of an article, i found her video hilarious, and proablly better than anything mccain comes up with.

  • sean hayes

    about canadas oil sands, alberta is becoming the most pollutted place in canada, NO THANK YOU america, get your oil from saudi, not us.. its so sad how little politions actually care about the environment…like denmark uses 20% wind, we could all use a sustainable mix, not an unsustainble mix

  • Thor

    Paris’s video on drilling was spot-on. It was also spoofing John McCain for attacking her. What many Dems and PUBs don’t get is we can’t give up oil before shifting to alternative energy. China and India will not sign on to lowering their emissions. If my great country does so, she will will destroy her competitiveness and harm our economy even worse. The US can still drill off shore and in Alaska while shifting to alternative energy over the next decade. You can drill faster than the blogger indicated. Besides a great parody, Hilton’s point is to use coal, wind, gas, hydgrogen, diesel, hybrids, etc. Both old and new is necessary. Yes we should be the example to the world, but we still have to keep our competitive edge and energy prices low for our people. We can do both but it will take time.

  • Emmaline Bageant

    hi, i adore paris. she is sexy and i can’t wait to find out what she will do next! x

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About Tyghe Trimble

I am the news editor for Discover magazine.


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