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Has The Kool-Aid Run Out?

The CBS Evening News does a Reality Check On Offshore Drilling

(CBS) With gasoline hovering around $4.00 a gallon, a new poll shows two out of three Americans now agree with President Bush – that Congress should permit drilling on the outer continental shelf, CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reports.

“Experts believe that currently restricted areas … could eventually produce up to 18 billion barrels of oil,” Mr. Bush said in a recent speech.

Even in Santa Barbara, Calif., where a huge oil spill from an ocean rig blowout in 1969 turned most Californians against offshore drilling, some people are having second thoughts.

“Well, if it doesn’t hurt the environment too bad and it lowers gas prices, I’m all for it,” said driver Sean Scott.

According to the federal government’s own Department of Energy, drilling off America’s coasts would not have a significant impact on domestic oil production or prices before 2030. And off-shore leasing wouldn’t even begin before 2012.

Why? Because the leasing process is cumbersome. And currently, there aren’t enough rigs or workers or refineries to handle more oil.

About the only thing they left out is that any oil pumped would be sent to Asia, because they will pay a higher price than the US, and the multinational oil companies are interested in their profits, not American drivers.


1 Frederick { 07.30.08 at 10:53 pm }

Between this and the whole gas tax holiday thing…oh, who am I kidding, Americans will fall for this kind of gimmick every time, just like the guy in the article.

2 Jack K., the Grumpy Forester { 07.30.08 at 11:45 pm }

…I’ve been neck-deep in the spotted owl issue for 30 years and I have maintained for most of that time that this particular controversy was an easy one to parse, simply because the spotted owl, like the snail darter during those grand old days of the TVA Tellico dam fight, was too esoteric a symbol for the dangers of bulling ahead without considering the risks of resource use. Over all these years I have insisted that the true ugliness of human nature wouldn’t actually crawl out of its cage until the equation became something more meaningful – such as ‘having elk’ (a VERY important large furry woodland creature to the hunting community that spans the socio-economic spectrum) versus ‘commodity resource extraction’. The irrigation/salmon fight in the upper Klamath River Basin just south of me in 2001-2 offered proof of my humble little theorem, pitting farmers in need of diverted water against people who derived their living from the commercial and sport salmon fishery along the Orygun/California coast…

Any altruistic notions that humans nurture toward the natural world in which they live are out the window when times get hard and their personal well-being is threatened. They will grasp at any any straw offered by any charlatan if it offers the hope of stepping them away from the perceived risk to their sense of personal security; it doesn’t really matter what the reality attached to that straw really is…

3 Bryan { 07.30.08 at 11:50 pm }

My local Congresscritter, Jeff Miller, was doing a conference call tonight when I was at my Mother’s, and he was pushing the idea that the platforms would be so far off shore you wouldn’t even see them.

Yeah, until there’s a hurricane and one of them washes ashore, as happened in Alabama as a result of Katrina. The “sugar white beaches” won’t look very inviting covered with oil and dead marine life.

The other local problem is the area they want to drill in is currently used for testing and training by the military. There aren’t many areas left for large scale military exercises, and the military is the largest employer in the county.

People keep clinging to hope, but the price of gas is not going down to the old levels – too many people around the world want to buy it.

4 Bryan { 07.31.08 at 12:01 am }

The Gulf fishing industry is dying as a result of over-fishing and pollution from run off. There is a huge dead spot off the mouth of the Mississippi caused primarily by fertilizer in the river water from farming. We have a similar problem in our bayous from lawn runoff.

We have restricted the overfishing in the Gulf, but there is no plan for the runoff. Between cheap imports and reduced catches sports fishing is almost all there is left.

I understand that people need to earn a living, but if you don’t think long-term where are the jobs for the next generation? When do the people who profit from the pollution start paying for the costs?

5 Steve Bates { 07.31.08 at 12:33 am }

I would be grateful if the pols in the “awl bidness” would simply admit what everyone else in the “bidness” knows: once the go-ahead is received to drill in a new area (e.g., ANWR), full production from that area will impact energy supplies in about ten years. That’s right… there’s no immediate effect on supplies and prices, at all. No short-term benefit… none. And even if ANWR ever produced fully, it contains far too little oil to have any substantive effect on America’s energy situation.

So why do Bush and Cheney push so hard for offshore drilling and wildlife refuge drilling? I suppose only they really know, but my best guess is that it is a dominance gesture: it is important to Bush to stick his Dick in the eye of everyone who opposes him. Not only is that more important to the Bushies than the environment, more important than public approval of themselves or of the GOP, more important than the health of their own direct descendants… it is even more important to them, or at least to Bush, than their profits. Now that is sick, even by Republican standards.

6 Bryan { 07.31.08 at 12:44 pm }

I don’t know, Steve, Badtux seems to still have connections and he commented that it’s ten years to get a rig, and you can’t do much without one. I think 15 is probably closer to the mark.

You can start making hydrogen, bio-diesel or ethanol today, but you have interruptions in food supply and distribution problems.

Better batteries charged by wind and solar are probably the quickest short-term solutions that can be rapidly deployed, but more efficiency is a better longer solution and goal.

7 Steve Bates { 07.31.08 at 3:43 pm }

I defer to Badtux’s more recent knowledge. I am blessed to have been out of the awl bidness for well over 10 years, possibly closer to 15.

8 Michael { 07.31.08 at 9:25 pm }

Some good news on the alternative energy front today, too. (Though it didn’t make the nightly news except on NPR, where Marketplace featured a story on it.) As I report chez moi, a couple of MIT chemists have announced the discovery of a cobalt-and-phosphorus catalyst that efficiently splits water into hydrogen and oxygen at physiological pH and ambient conditions, with not a lot of juice required to get the process moving.

9 Bryan { 07.31.08 at 9:34 pm }

That is good news on several fronts, even if it requires distilled water. There are several efficient solar distillation plans available if you want to do it at home, rather than buying it.

10 Michael { 07.31.08 at 10:01 pm }

I didn’t see anything in the paper itself that suggested distilled water would be needed, except in that it would make dissolution of the required amounts of cobalt and phosphorus easier. But it may be that after some tweaking, they’ll get this stuff sufficiently robust that you could take rainwater, stir in a bit of MiracleGro or something similar, and start producing oxygen.

The PR on the story mostly focuses on the hydrogen potential, but the paper itself talks exclusively about the oxygen. Seems to me that the chemists are trying to replicate what plants do in the photosynthetic process–store energy in the separated hydrogen and oxygen molecules liberated from the electrolysis or catalysis of water, and then recover that energy when needed by allowing the two elements to recombine.

11 Bryan { 07.31.08 at 10:11 pm }

A fuel cell is the opposite of this process. You feed the hydrogen and oxygen into a fuel cell and it generates electricity and water. They are explicitly combining it with solar cells to provide the power needs until the sun goes down, and then feeding the gases into the fuel cell to produce power in the dark.

A complete, stand alone power system that takes people off the grid and away from fossil fuels.