Bush Renews Call for Offshore Oil Drilling
By H. JOSEF HEBERT,
June 18, 2008
WASHINGTON (June 18) -- With gasoline topping $4 a gallon, President Bush urged Congress on Wednesday to lift its long-standing ban on offshore oil and gas drilling, saying the United States needs to increase its energy production. Democrats quickly rejected the idea."There is no excuse for delay," the president said in a statement in the Rose Garden. With the presidential election just months away, Bush made a pointed attack on Democrats, accusing them of obstructing his energy proposals and blaming them for high gasoline costs. His proposal echoed a call by Republican presidential candidate John McCain to open the Continental Shelf for exploration.
"Families across the country are looking to Washington for a response," Bush said.
Congressional Democrats were quick to reject the push for lifting the drilling moratorium, saying oil companies already have 68 million acres offshore waters under lease that are not being developed. [???]
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Bush's proposals "another page from (an)... energy policy that was literally written by the oil industry — give away more public resources."
[MS. PELOSI PREFERS AN ENERGY POLICY WRITTEN BY THE EUROPEANS AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL EXTREMISTS]
Sen. Barack Obama, the Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee, rejected lifting the drilling moratorium that has been supported by a succession of presidents for nearly two decades.
[MR. OBAMA WOULD PREFER HIGHER GAS, OIL PRICES, AS THE EUROPEANS AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL EXTREMISTS WANT, SO THAT WE COULD JOIN WITH THEM IN CLIMATE CHANGE KUMBAYA!!]
"This is not something that's going to give consumers short-term relief and it is not a long-term solution to our problems with fossil fuels generally and oil in particular," said Obama. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, lumping Bush with McCain, accused them of staging a "cynical campaign ploy" that won't help lower energy prices.
"Despite what President Bush, John McCain and their friends in the oil industry claim, we cannot drill our way out of this problem," Reid said. "The math is simple: America has just three percent of the world's oil reserves, but Americans use a quarter of its oil."
[MESSRS. OBAMA AND REID: THE MATH IS SIMPLE - WINDMILLS, SOLAR PANELS AND ETHANOL ARE NOT GOING TO MEET CURRENT OR FUTURE U.S. ENERGY NEEDS ALONE. THE U.S. NEEDS TO EXPLOIT ALL ENERGY SOURCES AND TO DEPLOY CLEANER TECHNOLOGIES ALONG THE WAY TO ADDRESS OUR IMMEDIATE ENERGY CRISIS.]
Bush said offshore drilling could yield up to 18 billion barrels of oil over time, although it would take years for production to start. Bush also said offshore drilling would take pressure off prices over time.
[THIS IS TRUE, GIVEN THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE MARKETS WHICH LOOK FOR POLICY DIRECTION AND POCKET BOOK RELIEF.]
There are two prohibitions on offshore drilling, one imposed by Congress and another by executive order signed by Bush's father in 1990. Bush's brother, Jeb, fiercely opposed offshore drilling when he was governor of Florida. What the president now proposes would rescind his father's decision — but the president took the position that Congress has to act first and then he would follow behind.
Asked why Bush doesn't act first and lift the ban, Keith Hennessey, the director of the president's economic council, said: "He thinks that probably the most productive way to work with this Congress is to try to do it in tandem."
Before Bush spoke, the House Appropriations Committee postponed a vote it had scheduled for Wednesday on legislation doing the opposite of what the president asked — extending Congress' ban on offshore drilling. Lawmakers said they wanted to focus on a disaster relief bill for the battered Midwest.
Bush also proposed opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, lifting restrictions on oil shale leasing in the Green River Basin of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming and easing the regulatory process to expand oil refining capacity.
[WHILE ANWR IS NOT NECESSARY, THERE IS NO LOGICAL REASON WHY OIL SHALE LEASING IN THE GREEN RIVER BASIN OF COLORADO, UTAH AND WYOMING, AND EVEN COAL MINING IN MONTANA SHOULD NOT PROCEED IMMEDIATELY. THE ONLY REASON WHY THEY HAVE NOT PROCEEDED, IS BECAUSE OF ENVIRONMENTAL EXTREMIST OPPOSITION AND CONGRESSIONAL MAJORITY SUPPORT.]
[See: Why Do Environmentalists Continue to Block Montana's Exploitation of Vast Inexpensive Coal Reserves That Could Be Made Greener With New Technologies? , ITSSD Journal on Energy Security, at: http://itssdenergysecurity.blogspot.com/2008/06/why-do-environmentalists-continue-to.html ; Are Wall Street Carbon Credit Traders So 'Invested' That They Are Blocking Exploitation of Known U.S. Oil Reserves in Montana??, ITSSD Journal on Energy Security, at: http://itssdenergysecurity.blogspot.com/2008/06/are-wall-street-carbon-credit-traders.html ; Former Greenpeace Co-Founder Exposes 'Pop-Environmentalism' as the Root of Climate Change Hysteria, While Calmly Discussing Virtues of Nuclear Energy, ITSSD Journal on Energy Security, at: http://itssdenergysecurity.blogspot.com/2008/04/former-greenpeace-co-founder-exposes.html .]
With Americans deeply pessimistic about the economy, Bush tried to put on the onus on Congress. He acknowledged that his new proposals would take years to have a full effect, hardly the type of news that will help drivers at the gas stations now. The White House says no quick fix exists.Still, Bush said Congress was obstructing progress — and directly contributing to consumers' pain at the pump.
"I know the Democratic leaders have opposed some of these policies in the past," Bush said. "Now that their opposition has helped drive gas prices to record levels, I ask them to reconsider their positions.
"Bush said that if congressional leaders head home for their July 4 recess without taking action, they will need to explain why "$4 a gallon gasoline is not enough incentive for them to act. And Americans will rightly ask how high gas prices have to rise before the Democratic-controlled Congress will do something about it."
Bush said restrictions on offshore drilling have become "outdated and counterproductive.
"In a nod to the environmental arguments against drilling, Bush said technology has come a long way. These days, he said, oil exploration off the coastline can be done in a way that "is out of sight, protects coral reefs and habitats, and protects against oil spills."
Congressional Democrats, joined by some GOP lawmakers from coastal states, have opposed lifting the prohibition that has barred energy companies from waters along both the East and West coasts and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico for 27 years.
On Monday, McCain made lifting the federal ban on offshore oil and gas development a key part of his energy plan. McCain said states should be allowed to pursue energy exploration in waters near their coasts and get some of the royalty revenue.Obama retorted that the Arizona senator had flip-flopped on that issue.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.
The following excerpts are taken from: Lawrence A. Kogan, ARCTIC ESCAPADES - Can The Precautionary Principle Be Invoked via UNCLOS to Undermine U.S. Polar Interests?, Prepared for the National Defense University Symposium "Unfrozen Treasures- National Security, Climate Change and the Arctic Frontier", (May 14, 2008, at pp. 47-48, at: http://www.itssd.org/Programs/KOGANIII.ppt .
►The U.S. oil & gas industries support US ratification of the UNCLOS & its application in the Arctic because U.S. environmental activists have thus far left the OCS in [the northern shores of] Alaska as the only place within the U.S. to undertake new drilling. Wouldn’t it be rational for the USG to reopen OCS drilling along the eastern & western U.S. coastlines, and to enable U.S. coastal states to share in the revenues, to ensure US energy security in the short-medium term while newer cleaner technologies are being developed???
§“Oil and gas leasing has been prohibited on most of the outer continental shelf (OCS) since the 1980s. Congress has enacted OCS leasing moratoria for each of fiscal years 1982-2006 in the annual Interior Appropriations bill, allowing leasing only in the Gulf of Mexico (except near Florida) and parts of Alaska. President George H.W. Bush in 1990 issued a Presidential Directive ordering the Department of the Interior not to conduct offshore leasing or preleasing activity in areas covered by the annual legislative moratoria until 2000. In 1998 President Clinton extended the offshore leasing prohibition until 2012. Proponents of the moratoria contend that offshore drilling would pose unacceptable environmental risks and threaten coastal tourism industries, while supporters of expanded offshore leasing counter that more domestic oil and gas production is vital for the nation’s energy security.” (See: Marc Humphries, Outer Continental Shelf: Debate Over Oil & Gas Leasing and Revenue Sharing, CRS Issue Brief for Congress (April 7, 2006) at p. CRS-1).
►U.S. environmental activists effectively invoke the Precautionary Principle – they recently sued to block ALL OCS oil & drilling around Alaska, alleging that “the Minerals Management Service did not fairly evaluate the potential effects if offshore petroleum fields were developed in the lease area...
§“Earthjustice attorney Eric Jorgensen said the lawsuit does not seek an injunction to block the sale, but asks the court to declare leases invalid if they are sold improperly. He said the groups hope federal authorities will cancel the sale based on the lawsuit and pending legislation. On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., introduced legislation to prohibit oil and gas exploration in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas until the full effect on polar bear populations was understood. Jorgensen said the lawsuit seeks a more thorough environmental review.” (See: Environmentalists, Natives Sue Feds to Halt Petroleum Lease Sale in Alaska, Associated Press (Feb. 1, 2008)).
§“Environmental groups and Alaska Natives who harvest whales, seals, walrus and salmon said not one acre should have been opened for drilling until oil companies prove they can overcome a basic environmental hurdle: cleaning up a major spill in sea water that's partially covered by broken ice. No oil spill responders have demonstrated that they can clean up oil in broken ice that ranges from slush to cakes, said Margaret Williams of the World Wildlife Fund in Alaska...The same conditions that contribute to oil spill risk — darkness during the long Alaska winter, extreme cold, moving ice, high wind and low visibility — would make spill response difficult or ineffective, according to the WWF...The stakes are enormous as federal policy makers look to find new sources of domestic oil and conservation groups turn to lawsuits to protect northern marine mammals and birds already facing habitat loss from the effects of global warming on sea ice... Williams said the MMS pushed ahead with the Chukchi sale despite information gaps, including an agreement for spill cleanup with Russia. The burden to prove risk continues to fall on conservation groups, she said. The Arctic and vulnerable wildlife already are undergoing stresses with global warming and don't need more from seismic activity, marine traffic and the potential for petroleum spills, she said. (See: Icy Area Opens to Drills, But What About Spills, Associated Press (April 13, 2008)).
... ►Apparently, Ted Stevens, the U.S. Senator from Alaska, sought administration support for OCS drilling to bring jobs & economic growth to the State of Alaska, and suggested that Alaska be cited as an example of how USG OCS licensing could be structured elsewhere in the U.S. (See: Senator Stevens Asks for Bush Administration Support for OCS Revenue Sharing for Alaska, Opening ANWR, Press Release, Office of United States Senator Ted Stevens for Alaska (April 15, 2008)).
U.S. environmental extremist groups have been notorious over the years for blocking the exploration and drilling for oil and natural gas along U.S. coastlines and up to 200 miles therefrom. However, many Americans have only begun to realize how U.S. environmental extremist groups, now backed by the 110th Congressional Majority, have long blocked the construction of use of nuclear power, clean coal technology using plants, hydroelectric power stations and of liquified natural gas terminals (even if the gas is not drilled in the US). Without any exploration and drilling over the past several decades, this type of policymaking has left the United States in an extreme energy security quandary.
The political debate seems now to be focused only on what the environmentalists will let the country do or not do. This sounds pretty similar to what occurs in the European Union, and has practically left the EU with high fuel and home heating & airconditioning costs and dependent on natural gas imports from volatile, unfriendly and/or unreliable regimes.
Is this what we want for the U.S.? Who will step into the current political leadership vacuum??
How much do Americans have to suffer before something is done??
How can the president and the congress permit the environmental extremists to kidnap and hold hostage to their demands our country's energy security and the well being of the U.S. economy???
Don't our leaders understand that the market prices of oil, gas and other energy sources is largely psychological, and that their policies and prescriptions must prudently address that psychology?
Why hasn't the president tapped the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to relieve the pressure on oil prices??
Is it prohibited from doing so by the International Energy Agency??
"According to the United States Energy Information Administration, approximately 4.1 billion barrels (650,000,000 m³) of oil are held in strategic reserves, of which 1.4 billion is government-controlled. The remainder is held by private industry. At the moment the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve is one of the largest strategic reserves, with much of the remainder held by the other 26 members of the International Energy Agency. Recently, other non-IEA countries have begun creating their own strategic petroleum reserves, with China being the largest of these new reserves. According to a March 2001 agreement, all 26 members of the International Energy Agency must have a strategic petroleum reserve equal to 90 days of oil imports for their respective country...In addition to maintaining a domestic stockpile of petroleum, several countries also have agreements to share their stockpiles in the event of an emergency...The United States has the largest reported Strategic Petroleum Reserve with a total capacity of 727 million barrels. If completely filled, the US SPR could theoretically replace about 60 days of oil imports." See Global Strategic Petroleum Reserves, Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_strategic_petroleum_reserves .
Apparently, the U.S. cannot touch its Strategic Petroleum Reserves because of the European Union dominated and climate change-focused Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) International Energy Agency Treaty by which it is bound:
"The International Energy Agency (IEA, or AIE in Romance languages) is a Paris-based intergovernmental organization founded by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1974 in the wake of the oil crisis. The IEA was initially dedicated to preventing disruptions in the supply of oil, as well as acting as an information source on statistics about the international oil market and other energy sectors. Recently, they have expanded their mandate to include energy security, economic development, and environmental protection. The latter has focused on mitigating climate change. [Environment (HTML). OECD/IEA. Retrieved on 2007-12-23. ] They have a role in promoting and developing alternate energy sources, rational energy policies, and multinational energy technology co-operation. Until recently, it did not study nuclear power in detail, except as a contribution to the overall energy balance and economy. Nuclear power is also covered by the Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD and the International Atomic Energy Agency of the United Nations.
IEA member countries are required to maintain total oil stock levels equivalent to at least 90 days of net imports. At the end of June 2007, IEA member countries held a combined stockpile of almost 4.1 billion barrels of oil, 1.5 billion of which governments control for emergency use." See International Energy Agency, Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Energy_Agency .
One last question for our leaders: How much longer will you permit the EU-dominated and climate change focused IEA determine U.S. emergency needs???