Monday, September 29, 2008
The bill would have the effect of rapidly accelerating expansion of offshore drilling on all parts of the Outer Continental Shelf, including the entire Pacific and Atlantic coastlines, as well as those portions of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico now protected until 2022 by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 (GOMESA 06). GOMESA represents a compromise in which Florida gave up 8.2 million acres of previously-protected waters to drilling through past authorizing legislation enacted in 2006.
Any state that had previously been protected by the annual congressional OCS moratorium could be opened to drilling before 2012, through a waiver of the usual congressional review of a new Five-Year Leasing Program. S. 3646 would also attempt to bribe coastal states into accepting offshore drilling with a share of federal revenues from such drilling, while severely weakening the ability of coastal states and impacted third-party interveners to engage in legitimate litigation to protect their interests as offshore drilling goes forward. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) would all be waived by this provision. You might ask yourself, if offshore oil drilling is as environmentally benign as its supporters claim, why do they need to suspend environmental laws?
Please contact your senators and ask them to oppose this legislation.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The end to the ban on oil drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts is a major victory for Republicans, who have seized on drilling as a major election year issue, citing multiple public opinion polls that show a majority of Americans support more offshore drilling. Speeches at the Republican National Convention last month were often interrupted with chants of "Drill, baby, drill."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, had incurred Republican wrath for originally blocking any vote on drilling before allowing a vote on limited drilling earlier this month.
The federal moratorium will be lifted October 1st.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
It's not just environmental groups like Surfrider that that are concerned about the short-sighted, dangerous and ineffectual frenzy to "drill baby drill." In a Scientific American interview, former CIA Director R. James Woolsey says America's oil dependence is a grave threat to our national security. He states:
"It’s not just foreign oil. It’s oil. I think one thing that’s been wrong about the debate is that people assume everything would be fine if we just had more domestic oil and relied on foreign sources for a smaller share. I think that’s entirely wrong. [...] So I talk about independence from oil, not foreign oil."
- the rapid adoption of plug-in hybrid vehicles
- prompting the transition by providing incentives for saving energy
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Era of Offshore Oil Drilling Ban Draws to a Close
After 27 years, the moratorium will expire in days. Democrats say they have no chance of renewing it in the face of Bush's opposition and election season pressure.
"I think it's awful," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). "This battle is not over. We will come back and fight another day -- that's for sure." Rep. Lois Capps, a Democrat from Santa Barbara, where a 1969 oil spill devastated the coastline, said, "I hope that when Congress revisits this issue next year, with a new president, we can negotiate a compromise that respects the need to protect coastal states and puts our country on a path to a clean-energy future."
Read it and weep for our coasts here.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
- about 0.06 percent of our total national oil consumption in about 9 years and
- about 1 percent at its peak in the mid-2020s
Clearly, offshore drilling is not going to get us to energy independence, not even close.
What about the price at the pump? Analyses, including the government's own, predict that any price reduction will be in the neighborhood of pennies and not dimes and certainly not dollars.
By comparison most studies show that a very significant reduction in our dependence on foreign oil and in gas prices would arise from decreasing our demand for oil -- for example, by investing in technologies to increase the fuel economy of our cars and in mass transport.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The measure, HR 6899, was approved by a 236-189 vote after a Republican motion to recommit it in the House Natural Resources Committee was rejected.
The bill allows drilling at least 100 miles off the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines, with an option for states to allow exploration as close as 50 miles from shore.
The bill keeps the ban on drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico off Florida but lifts the moratorium on developing oil shale from Colorado, Utah and Wyoming so long as the three states agree. Massachusetts lawmakers made an 11th hour addition prohibiting exploration in Georges Bank.
Environmentalists had earlier pinned their hopes on Democrats maintaining their longstanding opposition to offshore drilling. In fact, as recently as August 2008 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had pledged her unwavering opposition to offshore drilling, saying, "I'm not giving the gavel away to a tactic...that supports the oil (companies), big oil at the cost and the expense of the consumer."
However Pelosi reversed her position in recent weeks, eventually championing HR 6899.
"(This bill) was the result of a bipartisan compromise in favor of sweeping innovation solutions for America's energy future," said Pelosi.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Statement of Environment America Executive Director Margie Alt on H.R. 6899
“Increased offshore oil drilling would threaten our beloved coasts and beaches with chronic pollution and potentially catastrophic spills while doing little to increase our energy supply and nothing to help Americans deal with energy costs. Yet, Congress is poised to roll back 27 years of environmental protection for most of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts today while also opening up public lands in the West to environmentally destructive and energy inefficient commercial oil shale leasing.
“America needs real solutions to our energy crisis: investments in renewable and alternative energy, cars that go farther on a gallon of gasoline, and energy efficiency that reduces our dependence on fossil fuels. The House energy bill includes many, much needed solutions to change the direction of our nation’s energy policy. Most laudable is the bill’s inclusion of a renewable energy standard, incentives for both clean energy and plug-in hybrids, and efficient building codes. However the bill also contains harmful and wrong-headed drilling proposals. Thus Environment America applauds the leadership’s effort to change our energy course but opposes this specific bill.
“While we are pleased that HR 6899 maintains current protections for Florida’s Eastern Gulf and permanently protects New England’s Georges Bank, the bill would lift 27 years of protection for most of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. This could expose sensitive coastal environments such as the Long Island beaches, the Jersey shore, the Chesapeake Bay, Cape Hatteras, pristine coast and marine sanctuaries like the Channel Islands of California, and the Oregon and Washington coasts to the impacts of drilling as close as 50 miles offshore.
“More drilling would neither reduce prices nor cut our dependence on dirty oil. President Bush’s own Energy Information Administration has said that drilling in all currently protected offshore areas would not affect domestic oil production until 2030 and even then the impact on prices would be ‘insignificant.’
“The bill’s oil shale provisions are yet another detour off the path to clean renewable, energy while threatening public lands in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Producing a single barrel of oil from shale requires as much as five barrels of water, a severe problem given that oil shale deposits in the United States are concentrated in the arid Mountain West. Transportation fuels produced from oil shale have significantly higher global warming pollution emissions than conventional gasoline or diesel.
“Big Oil and its allies in Washington have been waging a slick and well funded campaign to distort the facts and convince Americans and the Congress to risk our pristine beaches for increased offshore oil drilling. The only true ‘gain’ from more drilling would be to further fatten oil company profits. Environment America urges members of Congress to vote against proposals to open protected areas to drilling. Instead we call on the Congress to put us on a true path to a new energy future by focusing on investments in renewable energy, cars that go farther on a gallon of gasoline, and energy efficiency that would truly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.”
Monday, September 15, 2008
In the history of confidence schemes, scam artistry, grifting, and flim-flam, perhaps no single entity has been as successful at it as the oil companies.
They have successfully conned the American public into believing that the price at the pump is tied to crude supply - then using the fear of price increases to push for a lifting of the moritorium on offshore drilling. It is a bait and switch scheme being perpetuated on a massive scale.
Case in point - today on CNN online, the following two stories were running simultaneously:
Oil Prices Fall To Seven Month Low
Gas Prices Surge Nearly 5 Cents
What's really to blame for price increases at the pump - SPECULATION!
According to congressional report released last week, speculation - not global supply or economic conditions - was the single largest factor influencing the price of gas.
"It was not rising demand and falling supply that drove the prices up. Because, OPEC said this week that it is going to cut crude oil production, because there is excess oil in the market. Thus, the theory of supply-demand-driving up oil prices is a clever ploy from speculators and manipulators," says Commodity Online's Nandita Sen.
Remember folks - offshore drilling is NOT THE ANSWER!
"The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association remains committed to policies that preserve and protect Florida's most critical economic tourism asset - its beaches. We urge Congress to carefully consider the reasons behind the current status of off-shore drilling policies in the Gulf of Mexico. We must continue with legislation that considers the broader potential economic and environmental impacts that could occur as a result of any changes allowing closer drilling to our pristine beaches.
We recognize that our elected leaders must find an approach to best meet America's long-term energy needs and to minimize our nation's oil dependency, we just don't want this policy to threaten Florida's most critical economic assets, its natural resources. For Florida, this means we must craft a rational and cautious drilling policy that maintains a significant buffer as far from our Gulf shoreline as possible, using technologies that best protect against any possible leaks or spills which might threaten our tourism economy."
Friday, September 12, 2008
Seventeen of California's 19 House Republicans have signed a letter supporting drilling off the state's coast.
They sent the letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco on Thursday as House Democrats assembled an energy package that would allow offshore drilling if states opt in.
The lawmakers, led by Ken Calvert of Corona, focus on revenue drilling could generate for the state if California opts in and if states are given a cut of the royalties.
Pelosi opposes drilling off the coast of California, as does Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The two Republican House members who didn't sign were Mary Bono Mack of Palm Springs and Brian Bilbray of Carlsbad.
In response to this, Governors Gregoire of WA, Kulongoski of OR, and Schwarzenegger of CA reiterated their opposition to new offshore oil and gas development by sending a letter to Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne commenting on the Minerals Management Service's Five-Year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program: 2010-2015.
"We urge the federal government to look for realistic short- and long-term solutions to our energy problems instead of pursuing a course that would be devasting to the environment and would not provide the fundamental economic relief that consumers seek", stated Governors Gregoire, Kulongoski, and Schwarzenegger in the letter.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
And yet with another hurricane - the fifth one this year - bearing down on the gulf coast, oil companies are scrambling to evacuate their platforms.
According a story in today's Washington Post, investigators have found that Government brokers responsible for collecting billions of dollars in federal oil royalties operated in a "culture of substance abuse and promiscuity" that included having sex with energy company employees, accepting lavish gifts and rigging contracts to favored firms.
Looks like the environment isn't the only thing getting screwed...
Get the whole story in today's Washington Post and Denver Post.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Thomas Friedman is a man bent on revolution. In his new book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, the three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist writes about the need for a green revolution — and calls upon Americans to lead the charge.
Monday, September 8, 2008
In response, a coalition of environmental groups including Surfrider Foundation, Sierra Club, and Defenders of Wildlife, as well as some businesspeople worried about beach pollution harming tourism have set up a Web site, Don't Rig Florida's Economy.
Also see Surfrider's Oil Drilling Talking Points
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Nova Scotia's interest raises alarm in N.E.; Environmentalists, fishermen concerned
Comment - This article raises the issue of potential offshore oil drilling impacts from Nova Scotia in Canada affecting New England states like Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York. A similar issue may likely rear its ugly head within the U.S. If the federal moratorium on new offshore oil leases is lifted, states will have the authority to authorize new oil drilling off their shores. But the ocean doesn't really care about state boundaries, so an oil spill from offshore drilling in Virginia may gunk up the beaches of the Outer Banks in North Carolina, etc.
The plan that would allow Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina to opt into leasing programs starting 50 miles off their shores now has the support of 16 senators - eight Democrats and eight Republicans.
However, it is expected to face opposition from lawmakers in both parties, and with Congress planning to meet for only three weeks before recessing again for the November election, its prospects are dim.
The proposal, not yet introduced as legislation, would also lift a ban on drilling off the Gulf coast of Florida, invest $20 billion on developing petroleum-free motor vehicles and extend expiring tax credits for renewable energy.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
What little oil is likely to be found won't cut gas price, will harm coast.
Commentary from Doug Rader, chief ocean scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
John McCain's proposal for a gas-tax holiday went over like a ton of bricks. But his proposals to open up the continental shelf for drilling have struck a chord. A recent CBS/New York Times poll showed that Americans back offshore drilling, 62-28; a bipartisan group of senators is at work on a compromise, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has signaled openness to the issue. Expect to hear a continuous chorus of "Drill here, drill now" in Minneapolis this week. But as a short-term fix, offshore drilling is just as lame as a gas-tax holiday. Exploring off the beaches of south Florida won't bring new supplies to the market for several years. And when offshore oil does arrive, the amounts will be so small compared with global demand that they won't have much impact on the price we pay. So why has drilling resonated? NEWSWEEK's economics expert Daniel Gross offers five theories:
• Vast right-wing conspiracy: The gas-tax holiday was derided by the economic-policy wing of the Republican Party. By contrast, the Republican noise machine—the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Washington think tanks, talk- radio blowhards, the dwindling core of Capitol Hill Republicans—has marched in impressive message lock step for drilling.
• Vast Marxist conspiracy: By sapping the highway trust fund of construction funds, the gas-tax holiday was a potential job killer. Domestic drilling, by contrast, is something akin to a jobs program for highly paid blue-collar workers.
• Screw the foreigners: Call it national security, or call it chauvinism, but drilling for domestic oil sets up a zero-sum game. Every barrel of oil produced here is one we don't have to buy from our long and growing list of enemies: Venezuela, Iran and Russia. By contrast, a gas-tax holiday just offers more opportunities to enrich Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
• Mytho-historical: Wildcatting for oil conjures up legendary fortunes (Rockefeller, Getty, Hughes) and feeds into romanticized notions of how the nation was built by pioneers who tapped into the natural bounty of this resource-rich land. Think John Wayne and "There Will Be Blood." Gas-tax holidays conjure up images of accountants. Think David Schwimmer.
• Freudian: The language and imagery surrounding the issue—drills penetrating the earth's crust in search of gushers—tap into deep-seated subconscious desires. A gas-tax holiday? Not so much.
Legislature OKs Oil Drilling In Long Beach
Environmentalists to support oil drilling (Santa Barbara)
Oil is too valuable to drill
August 30 - September 1
California State Senate completes final passage of joint resolution asking Congress to renew the federal waters OCS offshore drilling moratorium.
Drilling Poses Potential Threat to Florida Shores (Surfline article by Terry Gibson)
Crude Realities (Africa)
Drill Here? Why Now? (Newsweek)
Drilling for offshore oil a bad bet for consumers
For N.C., offshore drilling debate hits close to home
Editorial: Offshore Drilling
Florida's Tourism Executives Revisit Offshore Drilling
Oil Slick Kills More Than 200 Penguins (Brazil)
Oil Me Once (Santa Barbara Oil Drilling Vote)
Bartlett urges Congress to support offshore oil drilling
When Congress returns, a practical energy plan awaits
Santa Barbara County supervisors expected to back offshore oil drilling
Decision on Offshore Drilling To Test New Nominees
One 400-Gallon Argument Against Offshore Oil Drilling
Bible reveals no coastline is sacred: Drill away!
Surfrider - Oil Drilling Talking Points
Surfrider - Action Alert