Offshore Drilling Inanity

Brianna writes:

I enjoy your wry looks at politics. What’s the nuttiest thing you’ve heard in the presidential campaign so far?

That the solution to high oil prices is offshore drilling. This is inane in several ways:

  • The reason we’re damaged by high oil prices is that we’re dependent on oil. We need to get rid of that dependence, not find a way to extend it.

  • As if you needed it, the ability of this solution to find any support among citizens provides more evidence that the preponderance of people are woefully ignorant. Offshore drilling will have no measurable impact on gasoline prices for at least 10 years. Even then, the amount of oil added to the nation’s intake would be so small that the price per gallon would drop somewhere on the order of 5 cents.

  • For such a small — come on, meaningless — benefit, we’re going to further damage the already reeling environment?

  • The only lesson anybody should take from high oil prices is that it’s high time we move beyond the carbon age. We’ve had the capability to drive nothing but all-electric vehicles (not halfway hybrids) for the past fifty years. What do you think vehicles inside warehouses run on? The only reason you’re pumping expensive, dirty, terrorist-funding gasoline into your car is that oil companies want you to do so and have paid all the right people to be sure you must. Understand that. Exxon Mobil earned $11.7 billion in profits last quarter alone, a 14% increase and the largest single quarter profit in U.S. history.

I don’t endorse Democrats or Republicans on this site. Whenever I’ve reported facts in the past eight years, however, I’ve been accused of being a Democrat because recent facts show Democratic positions to be the most sensible. Back in the 1980s, the opposite was true.

With that caveat duly noted, let’s look at what each of our current presidential candidates says about our energy situation.

Here’s John McCain:

We need to off-shore drill for oil and natural gas, and anybody who says we can achieve energy independence without using and increasing these existing energy resources either doesn’t have the experience to understand the challenge we face or isn’t giving the American people some straight talk. ABC News

The current federal moratorium on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf stands in the way of energy exploration and production. John McCain believes it is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions and to put our own reserves to use. There is no easier or more direct way to prove to the world that we will no longer be subject to the whims of others than to expand our production capabilities. — John McCain for President website

Here’s Barack Obama:

You won’t hear me say this too often, but I couldn’t agree more with the explanation that Senator McCain offered a few weeks ago. He said, “Our dangerous dependence on foreign oil has been thirty years in the making, and was caused by the failure of politicians in Washington to think long-term about the future of the country.”

What Senator McCain neglected to mention was that during those thirty years, he was in Washington for twenty-six of them. And in all that time, he did little to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. He voted against increased fuel efficiency standards and opposed legislation that included tax credits for more efficient cars. He voted against renewable sources of energy. Against clean biofuels. Against solar power. Against wind power. Against an energy bill that — while far from perfect — represented the largest investment in renewable sources of energy in the history of this country. So when Senator McCain talks about the failure of politicians in Washington to do anything about our energy crisis, it’s important to remember that he’s been a part of that failure. Now, after years of inaction, and in the face of public frustration over rising gas prices, the only energy proposal he’s really promoting is more offshore drilling — a position he recently adopted that has become the centerpiece of his plan, and one that will not make a real dent in current gas prices or meet the long-term challenge of energy independence.

George Bush’s own Energy Department has said that if we opened up new areas to drilling today, we wouldn’t see a single drop of oil for seven years. Seven years. And Senator McCain knows that, which is why he admitted that his plan would only provide “psychological” relief to consumers. He also knows that if we opened up and drilled on every single square inch of our land and our shores, we would still find only three percent of the world’s oil reserves. Three percent for a country that uses 25% of the world’s oil. Even Texas oilman Boone Pickens, who’s calling for major new investments in alternative energy, has said, “this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of.” — Lansing, Michigan speech

If you would like to email me to express your opinion on this subject, please provide supporting evidence. I’m interested in discussions, not rants.

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