Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ensign Sends Out Reprinted Editorial From The Washington Post

For some time now, I've been writing (and re-writing) Senator Ensign saying "drilling is not the answer" and I've been getting reply after reply saying how proud he is of his stance that "we need to drill off-shore and in ANWR to remedy our current energy dilemna." Today, I got an email from his press office with a reprint of the following editorial that was printed in the Washington Post.

It appears that he thinks this one editorial supports his stance that drilling for oil is paramount to solving all of America's problems. The author, however, clearly indicates that drilling is NOT the answer and that alternative energy sources are a necessary step we need to take as a nation. What's disappointing is that the author mentions nothing of the infrastructure that it will take to support transportion that will use alternative forms of energy. Here's the article:

'Snake Oil' — Debunking three 'truths' about offshore drilling
Tuesday, August 12, 2008; Page A12

The Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund has taken out full-page ads in this newspaper and others to decry offshore drilling for oil as "George W. Bush's Gasoline Price Elixir" that is "100% Snake Oil." The environmental group calls on supporters "to stop the giveaway of our coasts." It is urging visitors to its Web site to send a pre-written letter to their members of Congress that says, "I am not buying the lie ... that sacrificing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and America's coastal waters to oil drilling would make a real difference in gas prices — either today or twenty years from today!" And the missive adds, "With just three percent of the world's oil reserves, our nation simply doesn't have enough oil to impact the global market or drill our way to lower prices at the pump."

The NRDC's arguments above neatly encapsulate the position taken by environmentalists and other opponents of offshore drilling. And they include a couple of good points. Contrary to the baldly political suggestions regarding lower gasoline prices by President Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), drilling would make no impact on today's pain at the pump because it would be years before any oil flowed from the Outer Continental Shelf. We agree that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, with its varied and sensitive ecosystems, should be preserved. In the quest for new sources of energy, there are trade-offs. That pristine area must remain off-limits. But there are three "truths" masquerading as fact among drilling opponents that need to be challenged:
  • Drilling is pointless because the United States has only 3 percent of the world's oil reserves. This is a misleading because it refers only to known oil reserves. According to the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service (MMS), while there are an estimated 18 billion barrels of oil in the off-limits portions of the OCS, those estimates were made using old data from now-outdated seismic equipment. In the case of the Atlantic Ocean, the data were collected before Congress imposed a moratorium on offshore drilling in 1981. In 1987, the MMS estimated that there were 9 billion barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. By 2006, after major advances in seismic technology and deepwater drilling techniques, the MMS resource estimate for that area had ballooned to 45 billion barrels. In short, there could be much more oil under the sea than previously known. The demand for energy is going up, not down. And for a long time, even as alternative sources of energy are developed, more oil will be needed.
  • The oil companies aren't using the leases they already have. According to the MMS, there were 7,457 active leases as of June 8. Of those, only 1,877 were classified as "producing." As we pointed out in a previous editorial, the five leases that have made up the Shell Perdido project off Galveston since 1996 are not classified as producing. Only when it starts pumping the equivalent of an estimated 130,000 barrels of oil a day at the end of the decade will it be deemed "active." Since 1996, Shell has paid rent on the leases; filed and had approved numerous reports with the MMS, including an environmentally sensitive resource development plan and an oil spill recovery plan that is subject to unannounced practice runs by the MMS; drilled several wells to explore the area at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars; and started constructing the necessary infrastructure to bring the oil to market. The notion that oil companies are just sitting on oil leases is a myth. With oil prices still above $100 a barrel, that charge never made sense.
  • Drilling is environmentally dangerous. Opposition to offshore drilling goes back to 1969, when 80,000 barrels of oil from an offshore oil well blowout washed up on the beaches of Santa Barbara. In 1971, the Interior Department instituted a host of reporting requirements (such as the resource development and oil spill recovery plans mentioned above) and stringent safety measures. Chief among them is a requirement for each well to have an automatic shut-off valve beneath the ocean floor that can also be operated manually. According to the MMS, between 1993 and 2007, there were 651 spills of all sizes at OCS facilities (in federal waters three miles or more offshore) that released 47,800 barrels of oil. With 7.5 billion barrels of oil produced in that time, that equates to 1 barrel of oil spilled per 156,900 barrels produced. That's not to minimize the danger. But no form of energy is perfect or without trade-offs. Besides, if it is acceptable to drill in the Caspian Sea and in developing countries such as Nigeria where environmental concerns are equally important, it's hard to explain why the United States should rule out drilling off its own
The strongest argument against drilling is that it could distract the country from a pursuit of alternative sources of energy. There's no question that the administration has been lax on that front. True leadership would emphasize both alternative sources and rational approaches to developing oil and natural gas. No, the United States cannot drill its way to energy independence. But with the roaring economies of China and India gobbling up oil in the two countries' latter-day industrial revolutions, the United States can no longer afford to turn its back on finding all the sources of fuel necessary to maintain its economy and its standard of living. What's required is a long-term, comprehensive plan that includes wind, solar, geothermal, biofuels and nuclear -- and that acknowledges that oil and gas will be instrumental to the U.S. economy for many years to come.

Source: The Washington Post

So let me see if I understand this. Sen. Ensign thinks this justifies his stance and that if we approve drilling in ANWR and offshore, the prices at the pump will dramatically fall to prices we haven't seen in decades and all will be well in the U.S. for years to come. Yeah right. Maybe he needs to read a few of the EIA reports using official energy statistics from the US Government:

So Senator Ensign, are ordinary Americans supposed to all go bankrupt waiting until 2018-2030 on the products of expanded drilling? I don't think so! We need a comprehensive energy program that has strategic goals for

  • shifting energy production to alternative energies,
  • building infrastructure to support alternative energy transportation (electric plug-in hybrids and natural gas propelled vehicles),
  • incentives for U.S Automakers to offer programs for converting gas-guzzling vehicles from gasoline to electric plug-in hybrids or natural gas, and
  • incentives for early introduction, nationwide of electric plug-in hybrids, compressed air-propelled, and natural gas powered vehicled.

There's an old adage: "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there." That seems to be the way Congress operates. They just throw one thing after another at the wall to see what sticks. Well, that needs to change. They need to look at creating a strategic plan and then passing legislation that supports that plan. We need to be on just 'one' specific road that will deliver us to energy independence in the most expeditious manner ... not on 15 or 20 different roads that may or may not get us to where they think we should be by 2018 or worse, by 2030.


Desert Beacon said...

Far be it from Senator Ensign to emphasize to his constituents that his e-mail is an Editorial!The Golf and Oil Party remains all about expanding Oil Giant profitability - as if they needed any help in that department. Wonder why Ensign didn't comment that the companies have spent more on stock buybacks than exploration and development? Or why their ROCE numbers are nearly obscene?

Local So-and-so said...

Companies buy back their stock in order to keep the price from falling. Less supply = more demand. As for exploration, they have plenty of untapped leases to develope whenever they like, and they're no dought waiting for congress to make up their minds before spending any more money on R&D. Unlike congress, they have to stay within a budget.