Free Markets, Free People

Stimulus? Try Offshore Drilling

During the last days of the Bush administration, there was a small flurry of hope among proponents of drilling for oil and gas which is off our coast. The president lifted the ban on offshore oil drilling and Congress, understanding the politics of the moment, let their ban expire. As the Washington Examiner explains, that leaves only one obstacle to the US finally going after what is thought to be about 3 billion barrels of oil and 11 trillion cubic feet of natural gas:

So the only thing keeping U.S. firms from drilling off our own continental shelf is President Barack Obama and his secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar, who is slow-walking the approval process that must be cleared before the work can begin.

However, President Obama has managed to break 2 billion of your dollars loose to loan to Brazil to help bankroll their offshore drilling in the Atlantic. One assumes that will give Brazil a savings which will allow them pursue drilling in the Gulf of Mexico as well, since they are one of a number of nations pursuing oil and gas there:

Brazil, China, India, Norway, Spain and Russia have all signed agreements with Cuba and the Bahamas to initiate exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico within the next two years. So the prospect of seeing Russian oil rigs 45 miles off the Florida Keys — where American oil companies are now forbidden to drill — is a very real possibility.

That “very real possibility” would see us buying oil from the Gulf from foreign oil producers when it was just as readily available to us and our own companies.

And who would you rather produced it – US companies who have proven over the years that they have the ability to recover both oil and gas safely and in an environmentally sensitive way or foreign companies 45 miles off your coast who could give a good rip one way or the other how environmentally safe their methods were?

Then there’s the recession, jobs and the government’s hunt for revenue. This seems like a natural “shovel ready” industry that wouldn’t cost the taxpayer a nickle to crank up but would benefit the economy and the tax base:

According to the American Petroleum Institute, the development of America’s coastal oil and gas resources would generate more than $1.3 trillion in new government revenue and 160,000 high-paying jobs over the next two decades.

Instead of going full bore and trying to get this program off the ground – or in this case, in the water, we’re still piddling around trying to pass legislation:

Senators Lisa Murkowski, R-Ak., and Mary Landrieu, D-La., are bipartisan co-sponsors of a bill that provides coastal states such as Florida their fair share of revenues produced by off-shore drilling and production. The same thing should be done for states on the East and West coasts. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state’s lawmakers hope to tap deposits off Santa Barbara to generate billions in royalties, and Virginia’s front-running gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell has made drilling 50 miles off that state’s coast a key component of his energy plan.

Meanwhile foreign nations are moving to exploit resources we should have been exploiting for decades.

We have a huge looming energy gap. We’re behind the curve as it stands right now. While all the politics is focused on health care reform, this need isn’t going away and only becomes worse. Instead of “slow-walking” this, Barack Obama and Ken Salazar should be fast-tracking it and getting us out in those offshore areas to grab the most productive regions first. If we don’t, we’ll be moaning about how the percentage of oil and gas we import has gone up again.

And, as usual, that will be our own negligent fault.



5 Responses to Stimulus? Try Offshore Drilling

  • And if this is an environmental issue, why is it ok to give money to foreign countries to do it? Why aren’t the environmentalists jumping up and down? Is it just because it isn’t US companies doing it?

  • Wow, I’m so glad our President is paying cash for clunkers, paying Brazil to drill, and dragging his feet on drilling here . . .

  • Everything in this is from the oil industry so what do you expect. I just love it when the oil industry comes up with “employment figures”. There is no basis for them, they seem to make them up at will. The truth is that switching to renewable energy creates more jobs than drilling for oil.
    As for the enviros, they are just as concerned about the impacts of drilling by foreign nations. Let’s get one thing clear- Drilling for oil or gas offshore is a dirty, polluting business from beginning to end. From initial seismic exploration, associated with mortality of ocean life, through the exploration and production process and pipeline placement, to the explosive removal of rigs, every aspect of drilling contributes to environmental degradation.

    Even with the newest technologies, oil companies still legally pollute by dumping drilling muds, cuttings, produced waters, drainage and workover fluids into the water every day. These toxic wastes contain heavy metals, carcinogens, solids, sanitary wastes, biocides, radioactive material and more.

    • Yup, because the oil industry, which has a 100 year record in the production of oil wouldn’t have any idea of what it would take, in terms of labor, to produce what’s sitting out in the Gulf and offshore on the east and west.

      Yeah, you’re right – you blew your credibility in the first three sentences. But thanks for stopping by.

  • Uh yeah, letting these other countries set up shop off our shores who don’t meet the same QHSE (Quality, Health, Safety and Environmental) requirements as US companies adhere to is problematic. Who will be responsible when there is an incident? Those that get hurt will be airlifted to the US for medical treatment, most likely at the expense of US taxpayers. When the oil spills start washing up on our beaches because those countries use processes that don’t have the quality standards we have here in the US, taxpayers will have another bill to pay.

    So we are now heading down the path of renewable sources. We are moving towards a dependence on foreign oil sources to foreign lithium sources. This resource is not readily available here in the US so we’ll need a whole new fleet of ships to transport the resource, which incidentally would use more fuel to manufacture as well as transport. Not what you would classify a sustainable business.

    I fully agree we need to work diligently to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, but we need to concentrate on the resources we have here and close to the US.