Sunday, January 27, 2008

Politically Correct Environmentalism Keeps Republican Candidates Mum About Tapping Florida's Huge Offshore Energy Resources

The Coast (Of Florida) Is Still Clear


January 25, 2008

Energy Policy: Our dependence on foreign oil is a crucial economic and national security issue. So with billions of barrels of crude sitting off Florida, why was the subject of getting it left out of the Republican debate?

It was by all accounts a dull and unhelpful affair. With Tuesday's Florida primary looming, there appeared to be a desire on the part of the candidates not to make any gaffes, ruffle any feathers, provoke any controversies.

This is the only explanation for why none of the GOP contenders brought up, or were asked about, a perfect topic for a Florida debatedrilling for vast known reserves of oil and natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast.

Maybe the media aren't interested or consider the subject closed. Maybe there's not that much disagreement among the candidates. Certainly, as we have noted, Sen. John McCain has voted against drilling in ANWR four times and has expressed no passion for developing domestic sources of energy.

In an interview with Florida CBS affiliate WINK-TV last October, another leading candidate, Gov. Mitt Romney, was asked about the subject and replied: "With regards to Florida . . . the federal and state governments have reached an agreement on a 120-mile limit, and that's something which can be pursued."

Wow. Something which can be pursued. At least not with enough passion to offend any Florida voters. Drilling for oil and natural gas in the gulf is certainly something the Cubans and their Chinese patrons are pursuing.

Cuba's state-run oil company, Cubapetroleo, has inked a deal with China's Sinopec to explore for oil in its half of the Florida Strait and is using Chinese-made drilling equipment to conduct the exploration. Since oil fields do not respect international boundaries, Cuba and others will be pumping petroleum that should be ours.

Enviro-leftists who oppose drilling in the gulf should know that none other than Fidel Castro is taking advantage of the Outer Shelf. Cuba has gleaned $1.7 billion from oil and gas drilling as close as 60 miles from the Florida coast since 2004, according to Rep. John Peterson of Pennsylvania, and "is drilling closer to sovereign American property than we are."

Lease Area 181 off the Gulf Coast of Florida is estimated to contain 1.25 billion barrels of recoverable oil and nearly 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, enough to heat 6 million homes for 15 years. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the North Cuban Basin contains 4.6 billion barrels of oil.

Is offshore oil an environmental threat? Brazil has achieved energy independence in part from the 1.9 million barrels of oil it gets from offshore drilling daily. The North Sea is full of oil and gas rigs. And of all the damage done by Katrina to our existing oil and gas rigs, vast oil spills were not one of the problems.

According to the Interior Department, since 1985 more than 7 billion barrels of oil have been produced in federal waters, with less than 0.001% spilled. It's likely that more oil has been leaked by cars, SUVs and motor homes traveling to these pristine beaches, or from the boats and jet skis rented by tourists, than is or will be leaked getting the oil to fuel them.

"This is the irony of ironies," complains Charles Drevna, executive vice president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. "We have chosen to lock up our resources and stand by to be spectators while these two come in and benefit from things right in our own backyard."

While politicians founder about ways to stimulate the U.S. economy, how about developing domestic energy resources? We reduce our dependence on foreign oil, increase supply, reduce energy costs and create American jobs. We might even be able to afford to take the family down to the beach.

No comments: