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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Offshore Drilling: We Have a Choice of Simple Confusion or Outright Lies | Election 2008 | AlterNet

Every day it seems gas prices are edging higher. For almost a year, oil prices have increased by 1 percent per week. A year ago, $100 per barrel seemed a nightmare fantasy to many. Today, oil at that price is viewed almost nostalgically -- as the good old days. In the face of growing price pressures during an election year, the Democratic and Republican parties have radically different answers, radically different approaches to the challenge. At the end of the day, neither is dealing with the fundamental challenges facing humanity with full honesty. One party seems caught in confusion and disarray; the other is providing direct answers to the challenge based on fundamental dishonesty -- answers that will aggravate, rather than solve, our problems.

Newt Gingrich has put forward a campaign calling for Drill Here! Drill Now! Pay Less! The campaign aims to gather millions of signatures for a petition to deliver to Congress, amid much press attention, demanding that the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) and all areas of the offshore continental shelf (OCS) be opened to new oil drilling. This is being offered as a response to both our ever-growing dependence on imported oil and the current price crisis.

Seemingly done to test the waters, Gingrich's petition quickly gained attention and conservative support. Leading Republicans and Republican-leaning columnists echoed the narrative that the solution to all of America's problems is to drill, drill, drill. This is now the Republican mantra, as they seem to believe that they have found a winning political issue, no matter what the implications of this "win" might be for America's future. But the effort is reliant on such blatant spin that it is essentially a Big Lie.

While it extends seemingly across the entire right wing noise machine, a few examples provide a window on the disingenuous and deceitful words supporting the call to drill the hole even deeper rather than working to solve America's quite serious energy challenges.

George W. Bush

George W. Bush, in a recent Saturday radio address, provided a clear example of how truthiness, rather than truth, reigns in the efforts to promote oil exploration and drilling in the outer continental shelf.

From that radio chat:

First, we should expand American oil production by increasing access to offshore exploration on the outer continental shelf, or OCS. Experts believe that the OCS that is currently off limits could produce enough oil to match America's current production for almost 10 years.

Wow. The OCS would match today's U.S. oil production for almost 10 years? Want lower oil prices? Want energy independence? The answer is clear: Drill the OCS, now! That is, clear until you examine what the experts actually are saying.

A report last year by the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said that "access to the Pacific, Atlantic and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production would not be expected to start before 2017.

Washington Post, July 13, 2008

Bush stated, quite bluntly, that opening up the OCS could match today's total U.S. oil production for a decade. He failed to mention that this would have minimal, if any impact, on America's energy posture for decades to come. The administration's own experts, who are far from enemies of the oil industry and oil production, state that this move would not begin to produce oil until a decade from now and that it would "not have a significant impact on domestic ... production ... before 2030." And, in 2030, that drilling would give us only a 3 percent increase over the 5.1 million or so barrels we currently produce. The EIA estimates that additional offshore drilling would add 200,000 barrels to the 2030 production. To place this into context, U.S. consumption is about 21 million barrels per day. Thus, the entire Republican effort to open up offshore drilling is about providing 1 percent of today's consumption levels, 22 years from now. Or, if you were to go and conceive a child right this second, you'd save a few cents per gallon and realize a minuscule savings at the pump when you drive down to see that child graduate from college.

It's a long article and you can read the whole thing here:

Offshore Drilling: We Have a Choice of Simple Confusion or Outright Lies | Election 2008 | AlterNet

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