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Posts tagged ‘offshore oil drilling’

The Southeast is out of gas and Congress wants to drill

We are finally beginning to see a little national news coverage, but cities like Charlotte, Atlanta, Greenville, Birmingham– and all spaces in between– are eyebrow-deep in a two-week-old gas shortage that doesn’t seem to have an end, even though our elected officials continue to tell us gas is on the way.

Thursday, I drove an hour to find a gas station that had gasoline. I don’t mean I drove around in circles all over town, I mean I chose a highway and drove down that highway, passing numerous stations what were completely out of gasoline, for an hour until I found one station– way out in the country– that had gas. You know what else they had? Lines. Really long lines.

Click here for a Charlotte Observer photo gallery chronicling the Queen City’s gas shortage.

Watch a CNN video report on the shortage, filmed the Atlanta metropolitan area, where CNN is headquartered.

At the same time, Congress lifts a 26-year-old off-shore drilling ban, even though energy experts report it will take 10 years to even begin drilling, another 10-15 years to extract oil… oh, and that they’re working with 30-year-old studies.

Randa Fahmy Hudome, a lobbyist for Libia who is married to a McCain advisor and who just so happens to be an energy expert who served as associate deputy secretary of energy in the current Bush White House, said these very things in an interview with MSNBC Sunday. She thinks there is an argument to be made for the psychological affect the ban-lift will have.

Meaning: maybe the oil companies will feel so much better about the future of drilling, and sustaining their trillion dollar profits (no kidding), that they’ll drop prices. Right.

Why aren’t we focusing on alternative fuel? Congress knows lifting the off-shore drilling ban is bogus– oil companies already have access to plenty of places in America where they are free to drill as much as they please, yet they aren’t; they don’t have the refining capacity, so says Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) in a recent interview on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show.

Rep. Slaughter: “The biggest issue here that has gotten almost no currency at all is that every president since Bush 41 has extended the moratorium on offshore drilling except his son this year, George W., lifted it this summer, as you know, which means it expires on the 30th of September. And at that point, anybody can drill anywhere they want to, offshore for three miles. We are not going to – obviously can’t renew that moratorium. And so maybe we can next year.

“But right now, we want to make sure that there will be no drilling unless a state opts in. The state has to say by legislation that it will do it and it has to be 50 to 100 miles offshore. Now, let me tell you, I’m a crowd of one that believes this. I understand that. But I don’t believe anybody wants to drill anywhere. I can tell you that throughout this entire debate, I never heard from an oil company saying, “For heaven’s sake, let us drill.” I don’t think they’re going to do it.

“They claim they have no bits, they have no drills and we know we’re at refining capacity. I would bet you anything – if my husband would let me, I’d bet my house and lot that there will be no drilling. Even T. Boone Pickens says this is the silliest idea there was. And British Petroleum – God bless them – has been saying for over a year now that this is not the way to go.”

So, why the big deal about offshore drilling? Why is Congress lifting the ban? Votes. It’s all about politics, of course. The folks in Washington heard the “drill, baby, drill” mantra and took it to heart, or, well, took it to mean that if they didn’t vote for offshore drilling their voter base might chant something else, like “Vote for the other candidate!”

Meanwhile, gas lines are longer than ever here in Charlotte– assuming you can find a station with gas and the national media is largely ignoring the problem. But, we can drill offshore now. I wonder how long the lines will be in 25 years?

~ Rhi Bowman

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Family Conversations

The following is a recent email exchange I had with a family member who will not be named. It’s important to realize the influence that even small conversations carry. I forwarded to her the U.S. Oil Consumption Graph that I posted a few days ago, and this was my family member’s response:

“OK – isn’t the REAL point to be released from the bondage of the oil cartel in the Middle East – who seem to me to be controlling the world? We need this stuff – we are going to keep using this stuff no matter what – SO it may not be the ultimate answer to our crisis BUT at least we’re trying to take the focus away from the oil cartel in the mid-east by finding solutions ( however slim) on our own. And maybe, just maybe, we will learn to provide for ourselves -given enough time. THAT is the solution.
There is no quick fix to this – as you know – we have to start somewhere.
Love you”

Here’s my response:

“Crude Oil and Total Petroleum Imports Top 15 Countries

“Take a look at the bottom table, entitled “Total Imports of Petroleum (per day).” If you add up the contributions to our oil imports from Canada, Latin America, and the Middle East (I included Algeria) in June 2008, you’ll note that each provides the US with about one-third of the majority of our supply (82%). To say that we are under the bondage of the Middle East oil cartel is not entirely accurate, since Canada, Latin America, and the Middle East provide us with similar percentages of petroleum. For comparison purposes, the United States produced an average of about 5,125,000 barrels per day, which is about 1 million barrels per day less than the total Middle East and Latin American imports we received.

Americans have been tricked into thinking that [offshore oil drilling] is a good decision by deceptive advertising and messaging. We should be trying to release ourselves from oil, period, no matter who controls it. We’ve had the technology available to do it since the 1990s, yet oil and auto executives made sure to pull the plug on plug-in electric vehicles (terrible pun, I know) in California before they were available to the public on a wider scale. They’ve also killed public transportation initiatives, which are integral to a more sustainable society. Conservation initiatives also need to be in the forefront of the government’s agenda, not tapping into our meager supply. We’ve been given a false dichotomy, which is that we drill and begin to move toward “energy independence” or we don’t drill and allow the terrorists to win. That is far from a realistic assessment of our energy crisis.

If we do drill, there is no guarantee that US citizens will even be able to use the oil, as the companies who are drilling are multinational corporations; the oil will be used by the global market. Our oil could possibly end up in Europe, Africa, or even the Middle East. Granted, transport costs and other considerations will dictate where the oil travels, but we can’t be so sure that it will end up in US cars; the market just doesn’t work that way.

Americans want lower gas prices, but we’re not going to have pre-2000 prices any time soon, even if we do drill. We have less than 3% of the world’s oil located in our offshore areas, which are quite sensitive, as there is no safe way to drill in the ocean. It is true that we won’t see the oil for years, nor will it have a substantive effect on gas prices. The only thing that will affect gas prices dramatically is if we lessen the demand, which is currently happening. US citizens drove 9.6 million less miles in May 2008 than in May ’07. If we stop using oil, gas prices will go down.

Basically, we can get off of oil. We have the technology, and pushing industries to produce electric vehicles at a larger scale will create more jobs, resulting in a more prosperous economy. We should focus on furthering non-carbon emitting fuels.  We also have to change our driving habits. Carpool when necessary, and take public transit if it’s available. Granted, Hendersonville’s rural landscape makes it difficult, but if you can cut down the number of trips you take, it will save gas and save money. Maybe you could arrange a carpooling schedule for Will in the mornings with some other parents. Well, I guess that’s technically what Will and Dad do in the mornings, which is great.

One more point: the Middle East is NOT controlling the world. We have to stop accepting that as appropriate justification for ridiculous government actions, like wiretapping, suspending habeas corpus, and worst of all, going to war in Iraq.

Love ya,

John”

My unnamed relative had a final follow-up:

“Good arguments John. And just why aren’t YOU running for public office? We need more young men to take a stand for what’s right.
I stand corrected.
Love ya”

If you haven’t figured out who my unnamed family member is, then I’ve done a good job. I haven’t done a good job.

It was nice to see a shift in my relative’s opinion; I felt like I had accomplished something.

Every little victory counts.

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