On Dec. 1, President Obama declared a moratorium on deep-water oil drilling until 2017. This indicates that no new leases will be granted for drilling in the Atlantic Ocean or the eastern half of the Gulf of Mexico for an additional five years. Limited drilling leases may be granted in the northern Pacific off the coast of Alaska.
I’m not in favor of the drilling ban. Following the April explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, which caused millions of gallons of crude oil to flow into the Gulf and the loss of countless jobs in the fishing and tourism industry, I wavered a bit in my feelings about deep-water drilling. However, I believe this moratorium will cause an increase in my personal and small business costs.
As a country, we are too dependent upon foreign oil. I’d love to be able to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle or even a scooter in order to have increased fuel efficiency, but it’s out of the question right now. We have two vehicles – a 1999 Chevy Suburban that is necessary for hauling supplies and equipment, and my 1996 Dodge Intrepid. Between the two vehicles, we average around 20 miles per gallon and I’m worried about an impending increase in gas prices.
We don’t drive unnecessarily and try to combine trips whenever we can, but we do live nearly 10 miles from the closest town with a gas station and convenience store. In the summer months, we sell baked goods at several central Ohio farmers markets. If the drilling moratorium drives up fuel prices, not only will I have an increased expense just to get to the market, my cost of supplies will rise.
In order to keep our bakery products reasonably priced, we have a 75-mile round trip supply run to Columbus. We have to go to more than one store to get the best bulk prices on our ingredients and packaging supplies, as some items aren’t carried in every store. In addition to my concern about my own price of gasoline going up, I also realize that the manufacturers will have to increase their prices to keep up with the freight costs.
I was able to keep my prices at the same level for four years by shopping wisely. In 2010, I had to adjust my product line to lower-cost, high-labor items in order to meet my sales expectations. While my products had a decent profit margin, if my costs rise due to an increase at the gas pumps, I may not be able to continue my summertime business.