Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Dark Day for Our Coasts

The Obama administration is proposing to open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling, much of it for the first time, officials said Tuesday. There is an existing 2007-2012 lease sale plan, originally proposed by the Bush administration and now slightly modified by the Obama administration, and a 2012-2017 lease sale plan.

Neither the 2007-2012 five-year plan nor the 2012-2017 plan will include any oil and gas lease sales off the West Coast.

Current Five-Year Plan (2007-2012):

  • The Gulf of Mexico: Four proposed lease sales there will continue to go forward. Details on one of these sales will be announced tomorrow.
  • Virginia: A proposed lease sale there will continue to go forward if warranted by environmental review, which will take about a year to complete.
  • Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, Alaska: Leases for the drilling of five exploratory wells will continue to go forward. Three production leases will not go forward at this time. President Obama has asked the U.S. Geological Survey to undertake a special analysis of the sensitivity of drilling in the Arctic, which will inform future drilling decisions there.
  • Cook Inlet, Alaska: Proposed lease sales there will continue to go forward.
  • Bristol Bay, Alaska: Proposed lease sales there will not go forward, and President Obama will sign a formal withdrawal of any leasing authority in this area.

Revised Five-Year Plan (2012-2017):

  • Mid and South Atlantic: The new five-year plan includes seismic testing and environmental review of areas south of Delaware to determine if drilling is appropriate. If this information supports going forward with drilling, there will also be another lease sale-specific environmental review before any final decisions are made about whether or not to offer leases in this area.
  • Gulf Coast of Florida: The new five-year plan includes environmental review of an area in the eastern Gulf of Mexico close to 125 miles off the Gulf Coast of Florida. About 2/3 of the oil and gas in the eastern Gulf of Mexico is believed to be located in this area. Drilling in this area could not proceed without a Congressional amendment to GOMESA. The Department of the Interior said that the Department of Defense was consulted in selecting this area, but didn't say whether or not the DOD was now comfortable with the possibility of drilling occurring there.
  • Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, Alaska: Additional lease sales will be proposed in these areas.

More details on the Minerals Management Service offshore oil drilling plans can be found on the MMS website.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Oil Drilling - Dependence and Dangers


Oil drilling encourages dependence, enemies


Oil drilling dangers in Florida waters,0,3334917,full.story

Friday, March 26, 2010

Help Our Friends in VA--Take Action

As you may have seen in the news, Virginia is on the precipice of seeing more oil drilling, and soon.   Yesterday, several House members from Virginia introduced legislation that would order the Interior Department to move ahead on a lease sale off the Virginia coast. 

Our friends in Virginia need help.  Please go here to fill out their action alert.  Feel free to modify the language with person sentiments--but at least let Secretary Salazar know that more drilling is not the answer! 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

"We cannot drill our way to sustainable prosperity and security"

That's the kind of statement that you usually hear from environmental groups opposed to offshore oil drilling. But this time, it came from retired Vice Adm. Dennis McGinn, a consultant on energy security issues, speaking at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography as part of a hearing by a state Senate committee on climate change designed to gather more information on how energy use affects national security.

Cutting Americans’ addiction to fossil fuel isn’t a tree-hugger issue but a national security one, McGinn told California lawmakers on Friday. Getting more oil within the United States is not a solution, he said. Top military leaders at the hearing told state senators that the armed forces are taking energy issues seriously — by working on ways to make their operations at home and abroad more efficient. In California and Nevada, conservation efforts by the military have reduced energy usage by 18 percent since 2003. The Navy is working on using biofuels in new ships, plus generating power from the sun and the wind on its bases.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Climate Legislation Should Exclude Proposals for Expanded Offshore Drilling

The following is a press release issued today by Oceana:

Oceana Cries Foul Over Rumored Expansion of U.S. Drilling from Coast to Coast

In response to the suggestion that the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman approach to climate legislation will include expanding offshore drilling into previously and currently protected areas, Oceana offers the following statement from senior campaign director Jacqueline Savitz:

“While we have not been privy to the actual legislation, we are extremely concerned and perplexed about reports suggesting that the climate bill will expand offshore drilling into areas that were previously protected, and even more egregious, into areas like the waters off Florida’s west coast that are currently protected by law.

Climate change is expected to cause devastating global impacts, including food and water shortages, severe weather and major ecological disruptions. In some areas, this will lead to territory loss, drought and famine, thus creating climate refugees and national security threats that concern U.S. military leaders.

These threats, caused by our consumption of fossil fuels, demand that we break our oil and gas addiction and shift to a clean energy future. The best solution is to focus on expanding renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

While there is a continued need for fossil fuels today, there is plenty of oil and gas remaining and accessible in offshore waters that are already industrialized. According to the Minerals Management Service, there is more undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas in the Western and Central Gulf of Mexico than in the rest of the country combined. The U.S. Energy Information Agency has shown that drilling for oil and gas in previously protected areas will not make us independent of foreign oil. Besides, these fossil fuels won’t be available for many years. Instead, focusing now on clean, renewable energy sources would make this expanded offshore oil production unnecessary. According to government estimates, the oil in these areas will save consumers only pennies at the pump, if that.

We are addicted to oil. The push to open previously protected areas off the west coast of Florida and the entire east and west coasts of the U.S. is unnecessary. It represents a greedy grab by the oil industry. It’s akin to offering an addicted smoker more cigarettes and claiming it’s a way to help them quit. Instead, it makes quitting harder and worsens the effects. Expanding offshore drilling from coast to coast would make it harder to stave off climate change, while worsening its impacts.

Oceans can be part of the solution. By expanding investments in offshore wind development, the U.S. could expand its energy generation while reducing carbon emissions. These investments would also slow ocean acidification and the resulting damage to marine life.

There is no place for expanding oil and gas drilling in a climate bill. A climate bill should limit carbon releases, stimulate the development of renewable energy, and prevent hardship for those Americans who may be affected by increasing energy costs passed on by energy companies. The oil and gas reserves that remain in previously or currently protected areas, and oil in the fragile Arctic region, represent carbon dioxide that is not yet released into the atmosphere. We should leave it in the ground. Trading away healthy oceans and at the same time worsening the climate change problem with no clear gain to the American people is a fool’s bargain and one that we hope will not be in the legislation.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

No, Drilling at the Beach is Not the Answer Either!

The city of Hermosa ('beautiful' in Spanish) Beach, California is in an 11‐year‐old legal battle over a proposal for a massive oil‐drilling and production operation next to local residences, parks and businesses. The city has now requested that the California State Supreme Court review a recent California Court of Appeal decision in the ongoing litigation. The Court of Appeal ruled in the city’s favor by finding the Hermosa Beach City Council had the “discretionary power” to deny an oil drilling permit, if it found the oil‐drilling operation proposed by Macpherson Oil Company would endanger the health and safety of the community.

Macpherson Oil Company wants to drill up to 30 oil wells and place permanent tanks and production facilities on 1.3 acres of land at the corner of 6th Street and Valley Drive, next to the city’s popular greenbelt, a half block from South Park, a block from residences and about a half mile from the beach, pier and downtown.

Macpherson's slant‐drilling operations are designed to tap into offshore oil reserves. Oil and gas operations on and near the ocean are considered so risky that no offshore oil projects – including the type of slant‐drilling Macpherson Oil Company proposed – have been constructed in state waters since 1969. That was the year an offshore oil well blowout covered 35 miles of beaches with an oily goo that killed more than 10,000 sea birds and countless numbers of fish on the Santa Barbara Coast.

In 1998, an independent analysis found the massive oil‐drilling operation would pose the following risks:
  • 1 in 3,000 risk of a fatality
  • 1 in 700 risk of one or more serious injuries to the public
  • 4% likelihood of an offsite flash fire with potential for human casualties
  • Risk of 31 leaks, 2 major releases and 1 rupture over the 35‐year life of the project
What do you suppose the risk of leaks or major releases would be for an even larger offshore drilling project?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Arctic Spills, Florida Drills and Peak Oil


Shell could face more delays on offshore plans

Federal Government To Pay Bill For Oil Drilling Risk Research
Yesterday, Amy Merten of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, warned of the consequences of a lack of adequate research on how to deal with oil spills from offshore drilling in the Arctic. “We know that we will have a spill in the Arctic. It’s just a matter of when,” she said.


P.C. military officials give views on oil drilling

South Walton County man takes fight against offshore drilling to Facebook

Offshore oil exploration numbers don’t add up for Florida

Another push for offshore oil drilling looms


Sustainable Energy or Offshore Oil?
Will More Drilling Result in Lower Prices at the Pump?

Gas Crisis 35 Years Later – No Difference – Who Remembers Gas Crisis of 1973

Peak Oil
Have we reached a tipping point in the global oil supply?

Lots of good references and "take action" tools here

Resolved Against Drilling in FL

View Resolved Against Drilling in a larger map

Monday, March 1, 2010

Despite Reports of Little Oil and Little Support from Coastal Residents, Florida Moves Closer to Offshore Drilling


Oil drilling bill introduced in Senate
Read the bill:
Senator Haridopolos introduced this legislation over the weekend. It would allow drilling within 3 miles of the coast and would take effect on July 1, 2010.

House will ban drilling platforms visible from shore

Offshore oil bill is viewed as risky

Offshore Florida oil: Not much there, there
“A new report says drilling in Florida waters would “have no discernible impact” on gas prices or the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, but could pump millions into state coffers. […] However, the report also said that the state’s estimated oil reserves – less than 100 million barrels – would satisfy the U.S. demand for oil for less than a week.”

Report says oil supplies in Fla. waters negligible
“Estimated reserves in Florida waters would provide the United States with less than a week's worth of oil and have no discernible effect on prices at the pump or U.S. reliance on foreign oil, says a report released Friday as part of a state Senate review of whether a ban on offshore drilling should be lifted.”

In Florida, support for offshore drilling depends on where you live
“When it comes to drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, it's as if there are two Floridas. The people who live and work along the Gulf Coast tend to oppose it. Counties and cities around the state's western rim -- including Pinellas County, Largo, Tarpon Springs, St. Petersburg and Safety Harbor -- have passed resolutions opposing offshore drilling. Much of the support for the Legislature lifting the state's longtime ban on offshore drilling is coming from the state's inland areas, where no swimmer will ever encounter a tarball.”


PXP and EDC: A Grand Plan