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Florida's Offshore Drilling Ban Under Attack

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The surprise here shouldn't be over Gov. Crist's about face on his previous support of Florida's ban on offshore drilling. The surprise should be over how long it took him to do it. Crist could not be a better representative of the GOP "brand" that bases policy formation on short sighted solutions designed to fit into 24 hr. news cycles while placating their corporate benefactors. Then they drag their Democratic opposition into a distracting debate on its merits that could last for weeks thereby avoiding having to deal with the hard realities of a long term energy policy the public needs to face and consider. The problem with counting all the things wrong with this new GOP meme for offshore drilling is figuring out where to begin.

Before I get into this faux policy of letting the oil companies have their way with our pristine environment down here off the Florida coast there is one slight item everyone is forgetting while they panic over impending $5.00+/gallon gas: the gulf of Mexico acts like a catcher's mitt for those hurricane's that come off the west coast of Africa like spitballs. Do we really want to build these oil rigs with targets on them with the potential to be an environmental catastrophe that would make the Exxon Valdez look like a can of oil spilt on ground? Since the GOP "brand" doesn't permit thinking beyond a few weeks the state MSM might just want to bring this up. Remember Katrina? A little reminder might be in order:

"NEW YORK (September 15, 2005) -- Nearly six million gallons of oil pouring out of seven pipelines and coastal storage tanks ruptured by Hurricane Katrina amount to one of the largest U.S. oil spills in history. Yet despite this disaster-within-a-disaster, lawmakers in Washington are saying we should open up vast new areas of our nation's shoreline to more coastal oil drilling, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

"These spills should be a clear reminder of the inevitable risks that come with coastal drilling, especially in areas prone to hurricanes and tropical storms," said Lisa Speer, senior policy analyst at the NaturalResources Defense Council and an expert on marine environments. "Katrina is a giant warning sign for anyone thinking about coastal oil production in their area."

Now about the drilling itself and the supposed panacea it offers us as far as the current GOP meme informs us. The problem with this is those stubborn facts keep getting in the way of their so called new policy for allowing the oil companies to drill until their hearts content wherever and whenever. First let's take a look at demand:

"The world economy depends upon the flow of oil, not the oil that remains in the ground. The fact is, more than 50 nations are now past their peak in oil production: Mexico, Norway, UK, USA, Russia, perhaps even Saudi Arabia to name a few. If you use ExxonMobil's estimate for the decline rate from these existing wells (-6%), then from now until 2017, we need to find and develop 37 million barrels per day of additional crude production just to stay even with what we consume today. That assumes no growth in demand for oil. That is the equivalent of finding FOUR Saudi Arabias. Does anyone think we have overlooked resources of that size and quality?"

And then there is production capacity:

"World oil production has been flat for three years. America's oil refineries are configured to refine light sweet crude and are currently operating at 88% capacity and paying a premium for this short supply. There is no point for the Middle East, the only region that may have spare capacity, to increase production of heavy sour crudes until new refineries are built or existing refineries have been modified.

"Three fourths of the world's oil and gas wells have already been drilled in North America. Our continent is so heavily explored that it looks like swiss cheese. Eighty percent of the oil available on the Outer Continental Shelf is already open to leasing and drilling. Will opening the remaining 20 percent make any difference when it takes 5-10 years to bring any new oil discoveries to market?

Then there is the reality of what the oil companies aren't doing with the wide open leases they already have to drill with: drilling permits issued between 1999 and 2007 for the development of public lands increased in number by more than 361%. And those gas prices have dropped steadily since they have had the capacity to do all that drilling since, right? The question to ask now is just what the hell is the oil companies doing with all those leases that aren't being used? They want to hold them as reserves for assets on the books while they drive up fuel prices. Real patriots these people.
Then there is that little matter of Iraq. Since we all know it was, has been, and still a case of "how did our oil get in your ground" attitude let's consider the colonial style 'Production Sharing Agreements' the oil companies are lining up to make with Iraq:

"The New York Times reports today that the Iraqi government will soon announce the award of no-bid oil service contracts with a coalition of western oil companies, marking the first legal agreement between big oil and the post-Saddam Iraqi government...."

"...[The] companies and the Bush Administration for years pushed the Iraqis to accept a so-called Hydrocarbon Law that would permit Production Sharing Agreements for the oil companies. That was among the so-called "benchmarks" that Bush enumerated at the outset of the "surge" in early 2006."

And what is Congress, to be more exact the U.S. Senate, doing to help us rid ourselves of this oil dependency?

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Tuesday blocked debate of a bill to offer about $17.7 billion in tax incentives for consumers to build renewable energy sources like windmills and solar arrays, and buy plug-in cars that run on electricity rather than gasoline.

The Energy Independence and Tax Relief Act of 2008 would have extended a tax credit to build windmills by one year through December 31, 2009, and extend for three years similar credits for renewable energy sources like biomass, geothermal, landfill gas and trash combustion."

Another reason why elections matter. Since Charlie Crist and his posse, Rubio and Pruitt, have tax cut trigger fingers with encouragement to go out and buy consumer goods without any long term thinking that only caters to the corporate bottom line for quarterly profits how about a different angle. Offer the auto makers tax breaks to for every car introduced into the Florida market that is either a hybrid, electric powered, or uses alternative fuels. Offer tax cuts to Floridians to trade in their hydrocarbon gas guzzler for one of these alternative fuel cars. It will make our environment cleaner, reduce our dependency on foreign oil, and ween our economy off the whims of petroleum costs. The problem with this is it takes long term thinking. Something Crist, Rubio and Pruitt are incapable of doing. That GOP "brand" is indelible like a tattoo. Its with you for life.

1 Comment:

charles said...

Saying that that some oil from ANWR or offshore may be exported or it wont lower gas prices is a very stupid reason for not drilling there! Take an class in economics. If we export a million barrels from ANWR and import a million barrels from somewhere else, it costs us nothing. If we import a million barrels and export none it costs us 140 million dollars! Research and development of alternative energy sources is great and we should do that, but as long as we are useing more oil than we are producing we need to drill as much as possible. If we end up with more oil than we need we can sell it to China to pay for all our imported lead painted toys!
Democrats say drilling would not help because we wont get the oil for 10 years, a great argument they have been making for a decade - jay Leno