Apr 6, 2010

Mr Obama and Drill Baby Drill

We were shocked and disappointed to hear of President Obama's suggestion that previously closed oil lease territories be opened along the USA east coast and parts of the eastern Gulf Coast near Florida, Selections from the President's speech as follows:

"So today we're announcing the expansion of offshore oil and gas exploration, but in ways that balance the need to harness domestic energy resources and the need to protect America's natural resources. Under the leadership of Secretary Salazar, we'll employ new technologies that reduce the impact of oil exploration. We'll protect areas that are vital to tourism, the environment, and our national security. And we'll be guided not by political ideology, but by scientific evidence.

That's why my administration will consider potential areas for development in the mid and south Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, while studying and protecting sensitive areas in the Arctic. That's why we'll continue to support development of leased areas off the North Slope of Alaska, while protecting Alaska's Bristol Bay.

There will be those who strongly disagree with this decision, including those who say we should not open any new areas to drilling. But what I want to emphasize is that this announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies more on homegrown fuels and clean energy. And the only way this transition will succeed is if it strengthens our economy in the short term and the long run. To fail to recognize this reality would be a mistake"

Here's the entire speech courtesy of the NY Times 3-31-10

The entire speech does mention how the Obama administration has tried, certainly much harder that GW Bush or even Clinton to lessen the USA dependence on foreign oil and to move us to less consumption and more alternatives. But we see this as a very short term move to pressure those in the right wing to possibly consider supporting some aspects of the upcoming climate change legislation. As we learned in the health care legislation, Mr. Obama is proving a master of running his agenda thru the Congress and he must feel this pressure is required to gain the votes he needs, but to so decisively switch from his pre election rhetoric of no off-the-Florida-coast drilling to now opening up drilling in such a wide expanse seems like a bit of a lie to us.

Here's what others say,

"President Obama’s decision to open vast areas of our oceans to offshore drilling is a move in the wrong direction. To make our country stronger, safer and more secure, we need to look toward solutions that provide more rewards than risks.

I began my career trying to manage development along coastal areas, and when the 1970s oil crisis hit, I fought reckless offshore oil drilling in the North Atlantic. I know from experience that expanding offshore drilling will take us backward, not forward. Not only does it pose environmental risks, it just isn’t necessary.

A more sensible policy would be to promote efficiency — as President Obama did in another part of his announcement today — and to get more oil out of existing wells on land, as we could do with a climate and clean energy bill.

Here’s how we utilize our oceans today: In the U.S. alone, commercial fishing generates more than $103 billion in sales. Ocean-related tourism and recreation are responsible for more than 2 million jobs. In 2000, the U.S. ocean economy created two and a half times the economic output of the farm sector.

This economic vitality depends upon clean, healthy seas. Despite technological advances, drilling off our coasts still poses grave risks, including accidental and hurricane-related oil spills. The Exxon Valdez spill stretched over 600 miles of Alaskan coastline — a stretch that would cover the eastern coastline from South Carolina to the tip of Florida. That’s a lot of beaches and fishing communities devastated."

Frances Beinecke is president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

from NY Times blog 3-31-10

One reason we feel Mr Obama's approach is very shallow is that there really is very little oil available in these areas,

"Oil companies aren’t even drilling in most of the offshore areas they already have leased — some 34 billion barrels worth of leases are going unexploited, mainly because the cost of offshore drilling is prohibitive at today’s oil prices.

According the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there likely won’t be any oil from these new offshore areas until 2017, and full production won’t ramp up until 2030. Even when it does, it will produce some 100,000 new barrels a day — about 1/1,000 of total global supply. The impact on oil prices will be “insignificant,” says the Energy Information Administration, and it won’t make America any less dependent on foreign oil, either.

David Roberts is a senior writer for Grist.org

from the NY Times blog 3-31-10

We will continue to focus on oil issues since we feel that this is an industry that is rife with insincere perpetrators of a style of life that we no longer want or can afford. We believe that although alternatives are slowly gaining ground, the oil patch conglomerates will do anything they can to continue the way it has been for 100 years so they can gain monopolistic profits on the back of the rest of us

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