Offshore Drilling? Obama Says Nil baby Nil 5/26/11
By Art Horn, Meteorologist
Drill baby drill has been a frequent rallying cry to inspire America to drill for oil in its offshore waters. This action would free us from energy sources that are unstable and unpredictable. Free market speculation uses this instability to drive up the price of petroleum. The Obama administration is dead set against allowing any offshore drilling. Instead of “Drill baby drill” his policy is “Nil baby nil”. The truth is that president Obama is trying to force an energy production revolution in America with no real estimate of what collateral damage may result from its attempted implementation. The main stream news media has given Obama a complete free pass on this issue.
Right now 98% of America’s off shore oil reserves are off limits to drilling. This moratorium on domestic energy production is just one of the weapons in the energy revolution being spearheaded by Energy Secretary Steven Chu. As President Obama’s right hand man, Chu is also doing everything possible to limit production of our vast resources here at home so that the so called “renewables” become more financially attractive to investors. In September of 2008 Chu said “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe," Gas prices in Europe are in the range of $7.50 to $9.50 dollars a gallon. On December 10th, 2010 Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a new moratorium on offshore drilling, effective for seven years! One of the main strategies is to make extremely expensive wind and solar energy more attractive by driving up the cost of gas. This administration has no intention of allowing oil companies to find more oil offshore that could short circuit their plans.
In April the EPA was handed a convincing defeat. The House voted 255 to 172 with 5 voting present to pass House Resolution 910 which is “To amend the Clean Air Act to prohibit the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from promulgating any regulation concerning, taking action relating to, or taking into consideration the emission of a greenhouse gas to address climate change, and for other purposes.” Be very clear that the Obama administration has no intention of taking this defeat lying down. When the president realized that his first choice to control carbon dioxide emissions was dead he responded with “Cap and Trade was just one way of skinning the cat, it’s was not the only way.” The president has every intention of finding that other way.
One of those other ways to skin the cat is to sabotage the efforts of American oil companies in their attempt to increase domestic supplies of energy. This under the radar attack will be spearheaded by the combined forces of two federal agencies. The first is a new agency that the Obama administration created after the BP oil spill. It replaced the Minerals Management Service. It has the imposing big brother sounding title of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE). Not the friendliest sounding agency title for any company looking to explore for offshore oil I’d say. I think it’s safe to say that the word “Regulation” in the agency name is code for interference and obstruction with any method possible.
The second federal agency in the war against offshore exploration by our oil companies is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This agency is the official home of the government’s oceanographers. After recommendations from a presidential commission the two agencies have signed a memorandum of understanding. This memorandum is more code from the administration. The real message from the memorandum is that these are marching orders from the president to get together and defeat the enemy, big oil and its dirty carbon dioxide polluting ways. The presidential commission noted that under previous administrations the NOAA oceanographers had little say in how federal leases were auctioned. The obvious intent now is for that to change.
The anti-drilling message from Washington is confusing and inconsistent making future exploration risky and therefore more unlikely. Recently Shell Oil scuttled its attempts to develop oil fields in the arctic after the EPA came up with absurd complaints about possible air pollution in a tiny village 70 miles from the proposed drilling site. Shell has spent $2 billion on permits and $4 billion dollars exploring the area north of Alaska where the US Geological Survey says there could be 27 billion barrels of oil. That is 2.5 times as much oil as has flowed down the Alaska Pipe Line since 1981. But hold on! Now the EPA’s Chief of Air Programs, Gina McCarthy says "I believe that we are very close to a strong permit that will allow them to have actually three drilling operations going on in the Arctic in a way that is protective of public health and consistent with current law." It’s hard to know if this kind of back and forth jockeying is just incompetence or a planned out strategy to make oil companies throw up their arms and just give up. In either case the result is to make future exploration less likely due to delays and therefore higher costs.
By using this new two pronged attack strategy combining the strengths of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the president hopes to look good for the upcoming election by allowing consideration of offshore drilling. He will be able to say in speeches that he is exploring for oil offshore to cut America’s dependence on imported oil. This will be a total smoke screen. Here is a perfect example of this deceit.
At a recent hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said “Last year American oil production reached its highest level since 2003.” Committee Chairman Darrell Issa R-California responded with “It takes five years at best case…from the beginning of the process to drilling production. So isn’t all the credit for this new peak in the previous administration? Exactly! Attempting to take credit for what the Bush administration actually did exposes what the current administration has done to develop our energy reserves at home, nothing. This deceit also reveals their true intentions as well. They have absolutely no intention of developing offshore oil.
With that kind of agenda exposed to the light of day how will the combined forces of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stop oil companies from developing offshore resources? The job of these two agencies will be to work day and night for as long as it takes to delay, obstruct and stop anything that might actually bring oil up from the ocean floor. They will commission studies that will take months if not years to complete. Then they will write reports that will show the detrimental impacts of offshore drilling on a wide variety of marine life ranging from the microscopic to whales. Then these studies will be sent to Congress where we will then have hearings as to what the studies show and why we should delay any offshore drilling until more studies can be completed. Remember “Cap and Trade was just one way of skinning the cat, it’s was not the only way.” Far from “Drill baby drill” it will be “Nil baby Nil.