Political and Other Realities About Drilling

I agree with Jerome that an expansion of offcoast drilling for oil seems like the politically reasonable thing. It may even be the politically inevitable thing.

Though I don't agree that it will work, or that it's advisable.

As to whether it will work to lower prices at the pump, the US Energy Information Administration says that it will "not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030." According to the data analyzed by Climate Progress, a lift on the federal moratorium on additional offshore drilling leases would only release 8 billion barrels of oil. In part, because about 10 billion barrels that are covered under the federal ban are off the coast of California, and that state is in firm, bipartisan opposition to allowing further drilling off their coastline.

California has committed to an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050 and the state government has no desire to have their famous beaches get trashed as badly as Alaska's coastline has been.

CP also points out, having talked to an EIA analyst about their most recent data, that oil companies already have leases and access to 34 billion barrels of offshore oil that they've chosen not to drill just as yet because of normal delays in a lengthy process. The EIA analysis suggests that an end to the federal moratorium would have no effect until 2020, and would then add perhaps an extra 150,000 barrels per day. That won't even represent a one percent increase in US output, less than one percent of estimated 2005 US consumption.

But for as long as the US continues to rely on fossil fuels, we have to deal with the fact that oil is a globally traded commodity whose production is in decline in many of the world's most significant fields, and for which demand is rapidly increasing. In particular, demand is rising in developing and producer nations, leaving markets tight even though refining capacity has increased. That 150,000 bpd would be a drop in the bucket, even against last year's global production of 73.27 million bpd.

The Senate Democratic Caucus is in accord with the EIA, that we cannot drill our way to lower gas prices.

I would hope, with the serious threat from global warming as serious as it is, that instead of further empowering the fossil fuel lobby, we would follow Iceland's example and look to other, proven energy sources, rapid advances in solar technology, and the increases in energy efficiency favored by 320 US city governments.

As many have pointed out previously, there are political realities, and then there are the geochemical realities of climate change. The climate doesn't care about calculations of political expedience on the part of the world's biggest polluter, it lacks emotion and respect for nuance, but it will respond to the increase in heat retentive gases with a destabilization of a climate favorable to human life.

I would urge Congress instead to look to ways to decrease energy costs through the deployment of carbon neutral and negative technologies. I would ask them to look to funding green collar jobs retrofitting our housing stock and other infrastructure, to both decrease energy costs and increase economic opportunity for the disadvantaged.

I would encourage them to pay attention to the chemical, physical and other factual realities of our situation, and find some way to make political realities comply with them. The climate won't ask nicely.

Tags: coastal drilling, global energy consumption, oil reserves (all tags)

Comments

25 Comments

Re: Political and Other Realities About Drilling

F'in A!  Drilling off of our coasts solves nothing.  It's akin to a tiny bandaid on a gaping wound.  Worse, the bandaid even has the potential to cause great harm.

Nice to see this on the front page.

by fogiv 2008-07-12 08:05AM | 0 recs
SellOut

I find it absolutely disgusting that for all the bitching and whining and moaning about FISA, the so-called progressives here are so easily willing to roll over like pathetic cowards on drilling.

There WERE and ARE political realities on FISA too, so don't give me that right wing bullshit line about this on drilling.  It is much easier to limit the impact that FISA has on our lives and the long term impact it will have than it is to roll back off-shore drilling.  

Again, I have zero sympathy for all the people who have bought SUVs over the past 7 years bitching about gas prices.  I am sick of the argument that they 'need' this big cars to carry their shit around.

Unless we keep gas prices over $4 a gallon nobody is ever going to get serious about alternative fuels.

by monkeyga 2008-07-12 08:07AM | 0 recs
Re: SellOut

It's possible to hoodwink the hell out of people either way on this issue.  For instance, grant offshore drilling rights with big fanfare while tying it to a rigorous permit process and alternative energy infrastructure development.  Essentially, because the oil companies are going to have such a hard time getting around to this anyway, we can make it so hard for them with routine, unobjectionable restraints that by the time they actually can drill, local objections may rule out drilling entirely.  Additionally, a bill that allows states to permit offshore drilling at their discretion while mandating that states permit offshore wind farms could shake a lot of hardened resistance to alt energy development.

by Endymion 2008-07-12 08:43AM | 0 recs
Re: SellOut

They are only progressive when they have a book to sell.

by Makey 2008-07-12 08:59AM | 0 recs
Re: SellOut

I actually find it pathetic that people would equate the 4th amendment with something that you likely just went and filled your gas tank up with...

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-07-12 03:29PM | 0 recs
Re: SellOut

Amen to that.  I am stunned, beyond belief, that people act like our Constitution is just a bunch of suggestions.

by JustJennifer 2008-07-13 08:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Political and Other Realities About Drilling

Frankly, drilling is politically favored right now. Fine, deploy the LBJ strategy toward this - give them only a fraction of what they want, convince them this is what they wanted all along and demand a heavy concession in return - in this case, I'd say it's fair to ask for additional appropriations for alternative fuel research and a corporate tax credit for those auto companies dedicating a certain percentage of their budget toward research in increasing fuel efficiency and/or alternative fuel cars.

This is a game of who will capitalize on public opinion, and I say we do it and do it now on our terms.

by ejintx 2008-07-12 08:20AM | 0 recs
sorry, it won't happen out here

even if gas goes to $10 a gallon because there was a time when our beaches looked like Prince William Sound in 1989.

Almost 40 years later, the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969 still has a hammerlock on public opinion about offshore oil drilling - not to mention the visible oil rigs off Santa Barbara and Huntington Beach and increased risk from the earthquake faults which extend off the coast.    

Here is an LA Times pictorial retrospective of this disaster:

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/envi ronment/la-santa_barbara1969_oilspill-pg ,0,4140637.photogallery?index=4

by mboehm 2008-07-12 08:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Political and Other Realities About Drilling

Oh and it's time to use Bush linguistic tactics against him - let's name the bill something cutesy like "No Child Left Behind."  Personally, I think the "Protecting American Vitality through Initializing American Goods" or the P.A.V.I.N.G. Act is good enough.  You know, P.A.V.I.N.G. the way to the future.

Yeah, that was a bad attempt...

by ejintx 2008-07-12 08:43AM | 0 recs
Just slap a windfall

profits tax on the bill and argue that it is necessary for investment in funding development of alternative energy sources.  The pubs will certainly not go for it and McConnell would probably lead a filibuster of such a bill.  These guys will look like jokers by filibustering a bill that allows for the very thing they claim will reduce gas prices just because it has a tax on rich oil companies.

I don't think Obama is caving given how big a deal he has made over the past year about his dislike of energy gimmicks.  The windfall profits tax idea allows him to go on the aggressive and portray himself as seeking a "bipartisan compromise."

I do think it's safe to say that any Dem that goes against Obama on the offshore drilling issue will be off the veep list; Obama never made as big a deal about FISA as he has with his opposition to offshore drilling.

by Blazers Edge 2008-07-12 08:47AM | 0 recs
Energy Smart Debbie

Just posted a diary about an exciting candidate, Debbie Cook (C-46) (http://www.mydd.com/story/2008/7/12/1245 59/368).

When it comes to Drill Here, Drill Now, Don't Pay Less [warning: pdf of a cover story article on Debbie vs Chicken Hawk Dana] (my perspective), Debbie said back in March, before this idiotic discussion began:

Drilling is more of the same and it's going to more of the same result. We don't really have a strong transition plan [to deal with Peak Oil].

by a siegel 2008-07-12 08:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Political and Other Realities About Drilling
Obama has to go long on a energy plan. It's one area where McCain has better policies. They only good plans he has.
Oil drilling is a good idea. So is nuclear power.
I wonder why Team Obama didn't go long on this.
by Makey 2008-07-12 09:01AM | 0 recs
We're saying,"let other countries drill"

Perhaps this is a national version of "not in my back yard", but it often seems like we're saying that other countries should do dirty work like drilling, not the USA. Brazil's Petrobras has made huge finds off their shores, China Petroleum will soon be drilling just 60 miles off Florida's coast, and Canada--through oil sands extractions--now supplies 17% of our oil imports.

Senator Obama seems to have some kind of grudge against Canada, vowing in March to go after Canada "with a hammer" if they didn't renegotiate NAFTA according to his diktat. On the energy front, he last month referred to the oil sands extractions in Alberta as "dirty", and made other claims suggesting that Canada doesn't care about the environment. Finance Minister Iris Evans promptly told the Calgary Herald that she "wouldn't rule out" cutting Canada's oil production for the US if the abuse from Obama doesn't stop.

Bottom line, we have to increase production of both oil and natural gas as an intermediate step (4-8 yrs.) to increase supply and lower prices. Other industrialized countries are drilling for oil; the United States should not be above getting its hands dirty in an effort to produce more energy. With respect to the potential impact on price, it's worth noting that within a week of his innaugural in 1981, President Reagan removed domestic controls on oil production. Energy prices began tumbling immediately, from $34/barrel in 1981, to just $11/barrel in 1986.

I share the environmental concerns of others who have posted comments (I worked for eight years at the National Wildlife Federation), but it's worth noting that the technologies utilized by Oil Services companies like Baker Hughes and Schlumberger have advanced light years over where they were when many of these environmental laws were first passed. Even when Katrina ravaged the Gulf in 2005, not a single oil spill occurred.

by BJJ Fighter 2008-07-12 11:10AM | 0 recs
by Beren 2008-07-12 12:32PM | 0 recs
So lets follow Reagans model?

This site is getting more pathetic all the time.  When Obama refused to condemn Reagan as the anti-Christ last year, people here went apoplectic.  When Obama decided to 'cave in' to Bush on FISA people here went apoplectic.  People here still want to crucify Obama over his Aye vote on the Bush/Cheney energy plan.  

And yet now all those same people now are in full support of Bush/Cheney and big oil in wanting to open up more drilling off our shores and in ANWR.

You people are really pathetic.  Making oil cheaper again is only going to delay any movement off oil.  Look at what happened 8 years ago when the GOP was bitching about how high oil and gas were back then.   What has been done since that time?  Where are the amazing break-throughs?     Nowhere, because people refused to change there habits.

Even $4 a gallon gas is only starting to make a dent, so I think it is obvious that gas needs to go to $5 or $6 a gallon so people realize that they have to change their lifestyle.

by monkeyga 2008-07-12 01:45PM | 0 recs
You can't put wind power in a gas tank

Or maybe you'd suggest riding a caribou to work.

by BJJ Fighter 2008-07-12 05:08PM | 0 recs
solutions

Mass Transit
Dump the SUV (I would possibly agree to drilling if we also add a massive annual gas guzzler tax on all existing SUVs)
bike to work
telecommute
carpool
just freaking move closer to work

Again, I stated this is a lifestyle change that we as a society have to undergo.  It is not going to be painless.   I started my transition years ago my moving closer into town and also I have been driving a hybrid for over 5.5 years.

by monkeyga 2008-07-12 05:56PM | 0 recs
Re: You can't put wind power in a gas tank

Actually, yes you can.  It just takes an extra step and some hard work.  And a change of lifestyle.

IF we, as a country, decide that it is fashionable to change our lifestyle, and it looks like it is coming, THEN we can seriously get off oil and get into alternative energy.

Think of how sexy the idea would be of individual home owners with solar or wind turbines SELLING excess energy to the electric companies!  I look forward to doing it.

by Hammer1001 2008-07-13 05:01AM | 0 recs
Here we go again.

I agree with Jerome that an expansion of offcoast drilling for oil seems like the politically reasonable thing. It may even be the politically inevitable thing.

Though I don't agree that it will work, or that it's advisable.

This is the discredited mode of thinking that led Democrats to disaster after disaster for 12 years -- the DLC inspired notion that standing for and by anything that's good and right is secondary to craven poll watching and following the GOP down every path of wrong.

by Beren 2008-07-12 12:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Here we go again.

Actually, the craven thing thats always the same is for thugs like you to roll out the DLC line with anything you don't have the ability to forsee how a real renewable solution could come out of this inevitableness.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-07-12 03:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Here we go again.

Does this vicious personal attack make sense to anyone?

How can a real renewable solution come from more drilling and oil consumption?  And how can following the GOP, as was done for over a decade of political disaster under DLC leadership, help the Democratic Party?

(This ought to be good.)

by Beren 2008-07-12 06:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Political and Other Realities About Drilling

I have an will continue to look at it in the fact that off shore oil drilling is a key to energy independence.  

There is by no means, enough oil off our shores to supply our oil needs, but when you combine that oil with alternative means of energy, you quickly lessen the amount of time that we need to buy oil from Saudi Arabia or go crying to Venezuela.  

The alternative energy sector is starting to kick up.  I know for a fact that here in massachusetts that there are hundreads of test sites or plans to test currently underway.  While Cape Wind sits in a deadlock, Hull MA is moving forward with what will be this nation's first off shore Turbine group.  Granted, it will only be 4 turbines but once this goes up and people see that its not a big deal, and actually very nice to look at, I think your going to see a slamfest of these things going up.  

If you have time to complain about drilling for more oil, then you have time to go find your local environmental groups and help them push the government to use alternative means.  How many of you are doing that?

by skywrnchsr509 2008-07-12 01:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Political and Other Realities About Drilling

I don't think it will work either, its just a popular political issue that the republicans are exploiting that Dems should jijitsu on to real renewable solutions.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-07-12 03:25PM | 0 recs
Oil spills + ocean towers = drops of oil

So there's a call (from conservative radio) to drill in the ocean so we can get drops of oil that will lower the gas price to $4.98?

Dare we hope that our cowed Democratic legislators will dare to insist upon stringent regulations, alternative energy taxes and windfall taxes to constrain immediate development.

Great ideas. How do we we get them into action?

by MS 2008-07-12 04:35PM | 0 recs
More refineries might be a better idea

than more drilling to lower prices.

by LiberalDebunker 2008-07-13 10:43AM | 0 recs

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