What follows is something I posted in September of 2008. The US presidential campaign was building up steam and I was sick and tired of hearing ‘Drill Baby Drill.’ It made me ill because of the stupidity of the entire argument. I wrote,
Even when production is pumping at full capacity, additional offshore drilling facilities would amount to about 200,000 barrels per day (bpd). The US currently uses 21 million bpd. This does not take into account the increase in oil consumption necessary to continue to grow our economy[during the time it would take to get the drills up and drilling]. The bottom line is that additional offshore drilling will provide 1.2% of the oil we use every day if we don’t increase consumption and we’re willing to wait 20 years.
So now Obama has opened up most of the east coast among other areas for oil exploration.
The Democrats are pretending to have been betrayed, the Republicans are saying he didn’t go far enough and the environmentalists are mad as hell.
The truth is that this was a beautiful political move. President Obama gave his Democratic base ammunition for the upcoming election and took steps towards soothing the sting of those opposed to “health care” reform on the right. Sure there are factions within the Democratic party who are oppose to more offshore drilling but fewer than five Democrats will actually vote against their Democratic candidates this November because the President opened up more offshore areas for oil exploration. Instead those candidates will be able to say, “Look, we’re trying to become more energy independent by opening up areas previously off limits and the Republicans aren’t going along with us. We’re willing to try what the Republicans have been asking us for years.” I’m not sure if those political bullets will hit their targets but hey, it’s something.
The real genius of this move lies in the fact that the Republicans have been saying for ever and ever that we could solve this energy problem if those wacky environmentally conservative Democrats would just open up more offshore areas for drilling. It’s total bullshit of course, as you’ll read below but they’ve gotten away with it because average Americans don’t know the facts. Obama has now taken that sound bite away from them. And as an added bonus if the Republicans do speak out against this they will be branded even more deeply as the Party of No.
I’m guessing the environmentalists who are upset about this don’t understand the facts. Little if any of the oil in these new areas will ever be pumped out of the seafloor. It’s too costly. We won’t be able to afford it. There is no real threat to the environment here because it’s highly unlikely that any substantial new drilling in these areas will ever take place.
This is political theater, nothing more. Grab a bag of popcorn and be amused.
Original post from September 2008…
I won’t go so far as to say I’m against lifting the ban on drilling for oil off the east coast of the United States of America. I say that because the only reason the idea is being bandied about is that the last two Republican presidents were oil tycoons and that party is desperate to reframe the rise in the price of gasoline as the fault of the Democrats. Perhaps Democrats should agree to lift the ban and when the price of gas doesn’t go down, Republicans will be left without that political punch to throw.
Having said that, I am not in favor of lifting the offshore drilling ban because drilling for oil off the east coast of the U.S. is stupid. Here’s why.
The USGS says there are 17.8 billion barrels of undiscovered recoverable resources(read Unproven Reserves) in waters currently off limits to exploration. The EIA says production couldn’t really get started until 2017 and wouldn’t be fully ramped up for another 15 years until about 2030. Remember the U.S. uses more than 7 billion barrels a year. Great, there might be two and a half more years worth of oil. Even if we could start pumping at full capacity today when my daughter is 2 ½, she’ll be 5 when all that oil is used up.
Even when production is pumping at full capacity, additional offshore drilling facilities would amount to about 200,000 barrels per day (bpd). The US currently uses 21 million bpd. This does not take into account the increase in oil consumption necessary to continue to grow our economy. The bottom line is that additional offshore drilling will provide 1.2% of the oil we use every day if we don’t increase consumption and we’re willing to wait 20 years.
Oh and if the oil companies don’t sell that oil to other countries. Remember, we currently export about 1.5 million barrels of oil from the US every day. There is no guarantee that big oil will even keep this measly 200,000 bpd in the US.
And don’t forget the hurricanes.
Notice I didn’t even mention the possible environmental catastrophes or the hit tourism might take if lounging at the beach starts to include a beautiful view of the flare from a drilling rig.
Offshore oil is politicians playing the blame game and that’s all it is. The sad part is that a majority of Americans are falling for it while their leaders, Republicans and Democrats alike, continue to refuse to act appropriately.
If you want a quick test of whether or not a politician understands energy issues ask her if she’d like to see the cost of gasoline go down. If she says yes, she doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about.