Monday, March 30, 2009

Don't let Ships of Fools sink the environment

Asbury Park Press Op-Ed:


There is an additional day this April to act like a fool — depending on where you live in the U.S. For us, it is April 6, the day of the public hearing on offshore oil and gas exploration at the Atlantic City Convention Center Additional hearings will be held in Louisiana, Alaska and California.

We suspect entire shiploads of fools will demonstrate their foolishness by supporting offshore drilling, which puts our entire coastal economy and environment at risk.

This Ship of Fools set sail back on Jan. 19, the last day in office for fossil fool No. 1, former President George W. Bush. He instructed his Mineral Management Service to create a new five-year leasing plan for oil and gas exploration which includes the entire East Coast. The new Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, wisely decided to extend the public comment period for six months, and he added the four hearings.

The reasons against offshore drilling are so compelling and so many; it is more like a fleet of fools than just one ship. Here are a few:

The S.S. Drill Baby Drill. Some believe expanding production will somehow lower gas prices, make us more energy independent and show all those OPEC nations we mean business. First, we cannot meet our own domestic needs by increasing production. Government estimates say only 229 days of oil and 562 days of gas lies offshore based on 2030 consumption rates, the year this fuel would be available to consumers.

Second, even if we put more fuel in the market, the big producers can just refine less to keep the price up. This is happening right now, pushing the price of gas up again. Furthermore, these companies are free to ship as much domestic oil as they want to other markets. Shockingly, we export 1.8 million gallons a day right now. Finding it here doesn't mean it stays here.

The S.S Show Me the Money. State budgets are already upside down thanks to lower tax revenues and increased unemployment. Oil drilling will not help this situation. From 1954 to 2004, the federal government received roughly $156 billion in oil revenues from the outer continental shelf, about $3 billion a year. Coastal states like Louisiana, Texas and California got $40 million, $29 million and $15 million of that in 2004 respectively.

How much revenue does a clean beach generate? Coastal tourism comprises more than half of New Jersey's $27.7 billion tourism industry and supports nearly 500,000 jobs while indirectly generating $16.6 billion in wages and $5.5 billion in state tax revenue. California beaches contributed $73 billion to the national economy in 1995. This does not include income from residents who chose to live there year-round or property taxes. These are revenue streams that will shrink drastically if the beaches start losing quality.

The S.S. We Can Do it Safely. There is a myth, often repeated never supported, that we have learned to drill without harm to the environment. The claim was made that no oil spills or oil problems resulted from hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In fact, U.S. Minerals Management Service found that as a result of both hurricanes, 457 pipelines were damaged, 113 offshore platforms were destroyed and a total of 146 oil spills released nearly three-quarters of a million gallons into the Gulf and surrounding environment.

But the worst ship of all is the S.S. Let Someone Else Fight It. This ship carries the folks who realize this is a terrible idea, a bad gamble financially, ecologically and ethically, but are still too lazy to do anything about it. These may be the biggest fools of all, since they have the power to turn this ship around and help us set a course for more renewable energy, conservation and energy efficiency, which are the real answers to our energy needs.

We hope no one boards this ship and instead they come out to the public hearings and tell their government what a truly foolish idea it is to drill offshore.

Many thanks to Matt Walker of Surfing Magazine for the original concept, metaphors, and general brilliance of this piece. It was just too good to leave it on a blog that would most likely only be read by surfers. With his permission, we wordsmithed it into Op-Ed form. Unfortunately, the newspaper didn’t accept the cool photo of Mr. T!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Secretary Salazar wants you to RSVP for the MMS hearings

US Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, is holding 4 public meetings to talk about the federal government's plans for new offshore drilling. He wants you to RSVP if you are going to attend.

Click here to RSVP

Monday, April 6, 2009
Atlantic City Convention Center
One Convention Boulevard
Atlantic City, New Jersey 08401

Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Tulane University
McAlister Auditorium
Building 43
McAlister Drive
New Orleans, Louisiana

Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center
600 West Seventh Avenue
Anchorage, Alaska

Thursday, April 16, 2009
University of California, San Francisco
Mission Bay Conference Center
Robertson Auditorium
1675 Owens Street
San Francisco, California

At each location, doors will open at 8:00 a.m. and meetings will begin at 9:00 a.m. Meetings will conclude by 8:00 p.m., with breaks tentatively scheduled from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Please refer to for final schedule information for each meeting.

After opening remarks, the Secretary and Interior agency staff will present a brief overview of the Department's findings regarding Outer Continental Shelf (OSC) energy resources.

The rest of the meeting will be devoted to hearing from public and private interests on best approaches to developing a comprehensive offshore energy plan that includes the development of traditional and renewable sources of energy on the OCS.

If you can attend the public meetings, then please formally RSVP to let the US Department of the Interior know that they should hold a spot for you, at the meeting. Space is limited.

Send your RSVP email to:

Suggested text:

Dear US Department of the Interior,

I will be attending Secretary Salazar's Outer Continental Shelf comprehensive energy development plan public meeting in [name location from above].

I would like to speak at the event.

I will be representing myself, as an interested and concerned citizen.

Please add me to the RSVP list.

Thank you!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Moving Toward Energy Independence - The Right Way

Mitchell Colgan is chairman of the College of Charleston's (South Carolina) Geology and Environmental Geosciences Department and has worked for Shell Oil, the U.S. Geological Survey and on three oil reservoirs in Texas, New Mexico and Alaska. In a recent interview with Robert Behre of the Charleston Post & Courier, Mr. Colgan made the following statement:

"The political energy spent on this discussion [whether we should drill for oil off the coast of South Carolina] should be used examining the political and economic feasibility of offshore wind-energy generation, as well as other locally produced clean energy. What drove our interest in drilling off of our coast was $4 per gallon gasoline. We have just witnessed this great collapse in the price of oil. This downturn did not occur because there were new oil discoveries. We did not find more oil; the world is using less. That's an important lesson for us. If we can take this time of cheaper energy to become more energy efficient, especially with regards to our automobiles, the need to drill for oil decreases markedly and we move toward greater energy independence."

Offshore oil drilling is just a slow-moving spill.

Every year since 1993, U.S. offshore oil drilling has spilled an average of 47,800 barrels of oil into the water. At that rate, it takes about 5.5 years to spill as much as was spilled during the Exxon Valdez disaster. Offshore oil drilling, seen that way, is just a slow-moving spill.


Join us to tell MMS that new offshore drilling is Not The Answer

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Oil Spills May Be Forever

20 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, as increased offshore oil drilling is being contemplated off Alaska, California, and much of the East and Gulf Coasts, an article in Science News and the 2009 Status Report that it references are sobering reminders of how permanent the ecological damage of an oil spill may be. From the article:

While surface oiling from the roughly 11-million-gallon spill of crude has disappeared, oil now turns up with some regularity just under the surface of tidal sediments in areas that initially had been heavily hit. Or so notes a 2009 Status Report that was issued this month by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council. This joint state-and-federal body was established to oversee the use of a $900 million civil settlement (collected from Exxon Co. USA, now ExxonMobil) to restore the area’s oil-hammered ecosystems.

The natural removal of this residual oil has slowed to a glacial pace, it says — "0 to 4 percent per year, with only a 5 percent chance that the rate is as high as 4 percent."

Especially troubling, it adds: In some places this oil “is nearly as toxic as it was the first few weeks after the spill.”

Full Article

Friday, March 13, 2009

Oil drilling: Here, There, Everywhere!

The proposed new MMS 5-Year Oil Lease plan is just plain scary. This plan was drawn up by the Bush Administration in their waning hours and is now the responsibility of Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

There are 4 hearings coming up in April to hear from the public on this proposed plan. We should voice our opposition loudly!

Monday, April 6, 2009 - Atlantic City, New Jersey

Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - New Orleans, Louisiana

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 - Anchorage, Alaska

Thursday, April 16, 2009 - San Francisco, California

You can find out more about about the hearings here.

Can't make the hearing - click here for other ways to chime in.

Click here to download a pdf 1-pager on the lease plan that also includes more detailed maps.

Stay tuned on Not the Answer for more information on these hearings.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Speak Out on Offshore Oil Drilling!

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will host four regional public meetings in April to present Interior’s findings on Outer Continental Shelf energy resources and potential environmental impacts from their development. At the meetings, the Secretary will also hear comment from public officials, interested organizations, advocacy groups and private citizens on OCS’s development.

The meetings will be held at the Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City on Monday, April 6; Tulane University in New Orleans on April 8; Dena’ina Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska, on April 14; and at the University of California-San Francisco’s Mission Bay Conference Center on Thursday, April 16.

If persons cannot attend in person, or are unable to speak at the meetings, they are welcome to submit written statements, comments or documents, either at the meeting or during the extended public comment period. Written comments can be either submitted at the meeting or thereafter throughout the extended public comment period electronically at , “Five Year Program,” “How to Comment,” or by mail to Ms. Renee Orr, Chief, Leasing Division, Mineral Management Service, MS 4010, 318 Elden Street, Herndon, VA 20170-4817

Energy & the Ocean: Part 1

What are the costs of drilling for oil offshore?

What are the alternatives for renewable domestic energy resources that come from the ocean?

How will development of ocean energy effect marine ecosystems, surfing or fishing?

We are exploring these topics in a new series in Making Waves entitled "Energy & The Ocean"

You can read the introductory article here.