Mr. President, we have plenty of good places to drill

June 16, 2010

Last night, President Obama addressed the nation from the Oval Office to inform us of the steps he’s taken to deal with the horrific oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. To be frank, I didn’t watch. For the 50-plus days oil has been spewing into the Gulf and wrecking local economies and ecologies, I’ve seen his response in action and I haven’t been impressed. Feckless, incompetent half-measures have been matched with an attitude of taking responsibility in name, only.

But, later, I read the speech out of curiosity. Of the many things to say about it (see the links below for good analysis), one item jumped out at me at the point at which the President tried to explain why we were drilling in such risky areas:

After all, oil is a finite resource. We consume more than 20% of the world’s oil, but have less than 2% of the world’s oil reserves. And that’s part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean – because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.

(Also here. Emphasis added.)

Huh? To quote the mighty Joe Wilson, “You lie!!”

Okay, maybe he’s not lying, but it’s either that, or he’s ignorant of economics, the recent history of drilling in this country, and the established natural resources of the United States. To be fair, he says “part of the reason,” but it’s a big part of his argument.

And it’s a false part.

Forget for a moment the vast resources sitting off the Atlantic coast, the near-shore Gulf of Mexico, off California, the oil shale of Colorado and neighboring states, and the humongous amount of oil sitting under Alaska and just offshore. Let me provide just one example, which his own Geological Survey could have told him with a 30-second phone call:

In March, 2008, I wrote about the Bakken formation, a large oil bearing area under North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Saskatchewan province. Go ahead, read it for background. I’ll wait.  Whistling

Ah, you’re back. Okay, so the easily recoverable reserves for just North Dakota were estimated at 660 million barrels. A report from the USGS of about the same time puts the recoverable reserves under North Dakota and Montana at 3-4.3 billion barrels.  (See also here) And that still does not include the whole formation. Snopes points out that this would cover US oil imports for roughly only one year, not the 41 years some have hyperventilated over, but that’s a bit of a straw man, for it doesn’t consider other reserves in the US and nearby waters.

But, back to President Obama’s mendacious argument. It’s not that we’re “running out of places to drill;” it’s that government policy has been dominated by environmental reactionaries who opposed any drilling whatsoever onshore and in coastal waters, especially if it gets in the way of the pretty view from their house. That’s been the politics of oil here in California since the 1969 Santa Barbara spill. Since then, even with improvements in drilling technology and safety measures (this latest event aside, US platform drilling has an excellent safety history), it’s been almost impossible to get new drilling off the coast, thanks to a combination of the environmental Left and coastal homeowners playing the role of NIMBY.

It’s this Luddite eco-tyranny that’s lead to drilling in risky areas, such as where the now-destroyed Deepwater Horizon rig was located. By blocking exploration and exploitation in safer, more reasonable areas, the environmentalist Left has helped create the conditions for this catastrophe. No, I’m not excusing BP’s lousy practices or the Fed’s failure to properly supervise them and plan for a catastrophe. But the pressure to drill in riskier deep-water areas, which we first incentivized under Bill Clinton, originated with the anti-oil environmental lobby that has time and again fought to block intelligent exploitation of safer fields, such as ANWR or the coast of California via slant drilling.

So, Mr President, far from running out of places to drill, we have plenty. More than enough to safely supply our oil needs (or more realistically, greatly cushion our dependence on foreign oil) while we work to develop alternative sources of fuel and lubricants that are economically viable.

The Federal government just has to stop barring the door.

LINKS: Analysis of the rest of the President’s speech from Power Line, Hot Air, Big Government, the LA Time’s Andrew Malcolm, Jonah Goldberg, and Nick Gillespie.


Palin. Nightstick. Boom.

June 13, 2010

Perhaps giving in to exasperation, Sarah Palin unloaded on both President Obama and the (Social) Democrats on her Facebook page today in a post that links the need to expand domestic oil drilling to our national security:

Am I the only one who wonders what could possibly be the agenda of any politician who would thwart our drive toward energy independence? Continuing to lock up America’s domestic energy reserves, including the energy-rich Last Frontier of Alaska, only equips dangerous foreign regimes as they fund terrorist organizations to harm us and our allies. I’m going to keep speaking and writing about this in the simplest of terms until someone can provide a simple answer as to why liberal Democrats don’t understand that we have safe, warehoused onshore and shallow water reserves waiting for permission to be extracted. They either choose not to understand the geology, science, and technology behind an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy security, or they understand it, yet for whatever frightening reason choose to be lap dogs to Chavez and Ahmadinejad.

Ouch. That’s going to leave a mark.

The former governor goes on to cite a Newsmax article about a letter from Republican senators challenging the administration over Venezuela’s ties to terrorism and our reliance on oil supplied by Hugo Chavez, who hates the United States. (Paging Joe Kennedy…)

While I’m not comfortable about relying on Newsmax (they’re given to sensationalism and have had to retract stories in a few embarrassing cases), she’s right to draw the link between the intelligent exploitation of domestic resources and our national security. In the Persian Gulf, many of the wealthy in countries from which we buy our oil use the profits from our purchases to support al Qaeda and other jihadist groups at war with America and the West.

In the case of Venezuela, Chavez has made no secret of his growing alliance with Iran, while the Newsmax article Palin quotes talks of Iranian security forces sealing off a Venezuelan airport in advance of an apparently high-value delivery. While the subsequent discussion of the ease with which some sort of nuclear explosive could be smuggled north is sensationalistic, the overall point is well-taken:

  • Iran is headed by a millenarian fascist regime that sees as its duty to do what it can to create the chaos that will herald the return of the Mahdi and the final victory of Islam.
  • Iran has been at war with the United States since 1979, even if we haven’t realized it.
  • Iran’s cats-paw, the terrorist jihad organization Hizbullah, has a significant presence in the United States and could be used to launch attacks within America.
  • Venezuela is allied with Iran and itself is seeking nuclear technology (supposedly for peaceful purposes).
  • Our southern border is undeniably porous.

And our dependence on Venezuelan oil is thus an example of how our freedom to act against potential threats posed by the Iranian-Venezuelan axis is potentially limited by our failure to intelligently exploit our own resources, relying instead on others.

If Sarah Palin is exasperated, she has every right to be.

I am, too.


Palin on energy independence

October 6, 2009

Also from her Facebook page:

The British newspaper The Independent reported today that Gulf oil producers were negotiating with Russia, China, Japan and France to replace the dollar in pricing oil with a basket of currencies. According to the Wall Street Journal, Arab oil officials have denied the story, but even the possibility of such a talk weakens the dollar and renews fears about its continued viability as an international reserve currency. In fact, today a United Nations official called for a new global reserve currency to replace the dollar and end our “privilege” to run up huge deficits. We can see the effect of this in the price of gold, which hit a record high today in response to fears about the weakened dollar.

All of this is a result of our out-of-control debt. This is why we need to rein in spending, and this is also why we need energy independence. A weakened dollar means higher commodity prices. This will make it more difficult to pay our bills – including the bill to import oil.

In his book Architects of Ruin, Peter Schweizer points out that the Obama administration is focusing primarily on “green energy,” while ignoring our need to develop our domestic conventional energy resources. We’re ignoring the looming crisis caused by our dependence on foreign oil. Because we’re dependent on foreign nations for our oil, we’re also at their mercy if they decide to dump the dollar as their trade currency. We can’t allow ourselves to be so vulnerable to the whims of foreign nations. That’s why we must develop our own domestic supplies of oil and gas.

Though the chant of “Drill, baby, drill” was much derided, it expressed the need to confront this issue head-on before it reaches a crisis point.

Bottom line: let’s stop digging ourselves into debt and start drilling for energy independence.

– Sarah Palin

*Note: Schweizer’s book is a real eye-opener. The sections on ACORN are quite informative.

Being the good Palinbot I am, I’ve ordered Schweizer’s book.  Hopefully it’s more than just a red-meat fiesta.