Yesterday, Chevron Corp. announced the finding of a vast untapped oil reserve in the Gulf of Mexico, after Jack2, its test well, hit the biggest jackpot in a generation. It comes as a relief for some, but could be a headache for environmentalists.

Talk about the coming “end of oil” and conflict in the Middle East have been galvanizing Bush administration efforts to pump alternative energies. On the surface, this new oil discovery threatens to derail recent progress.

And yet even this gigantic petroleum pool — estimated to hold between 3 and 15 billion barrels — will only support our oil-hungry habits for about two years (the U.S. consumes an roughly 5.7 billion barrels of crude per year). Moreover, analysts say that production from the deposit probably won’t come on-line until about 2010.

A far more important reason not to relax the hunt for alternative energies is, for environmentalists at least, the most obvious. It’s global warming, stupid. But not one word about this aspect on the major news networks, which all ran the AP story.

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Instead we get this:

The proximity of the Gulf of Mexico to the world’s largest oil consuming nation makes it especially attractive. And it could bring pressure on Florida and other states to relax limits they have placed on drilling in their offshore waters for environmental and tourism reasons.

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