There's a rightwing pundit allegedly from my home state of West Virginia who  thinks that doing the same thing repeatedly will bring a different result. Sound familiar?

Although he bills himself as "The Dean of West Virginia Radio", when it comes to providing stupid answers to real problems, Mr. Kercheval spouts half-truths with the worst of them.

In his op-ed piece of Jul 16, 2008, Mr. Kercheval begins:

When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging," as the saying goes.

...a wise old adage, to be sure. But now it's time to crank up the ol' steam powered Spinmeister 2000...

But when it comes to the nation's energy needs that old adage needs to be inverted: "When you need a hole, start digging."

...If you're implying that we're running out of gas, anyone can clearly see that this just isn't true. Otherwise, where are the long lines at the pumps and federally mandated reduced speed limits? And just why are we (the U.S.) exporting oil and oil related products at a record-breaking rate?  

President Bush this week finally lifted the executive prohibition on drilling in the outer continental shelf that has been in place since 1992.  But nothing will change unless Congress overturns its ban or allows it to expire Sept. 30.

...By "nothing will change", are you implying that the price can't down unless they give Big Oil the right to drill on yet more acreage? Because if that's what you're saying, you've just completely jumped the shark. As a "member of the media" you should know that recent testimony by a whole slew of experts under oath at Congressional hearings basically corroborated the Democratic leadership position that the current price of gas has little or nothing to do with supply-and-demand. Because if proper oversight and restrictions were imposed over "dark market" oil speculators, gas prices could drop as low a $2.00 pe gallon within 30 days!  

Congressional Democratic leaders have chained themselves to the drilling rigs-figuratively at least-to block any additional exploration and drilling of the OCS where there are substantial oil and gas deposits.

...That's simply not true. Congress — which was under Republican control for most of the Bush presidency — is not blocking drilling. The number of off-and-on-shore drilling permits has exploded in recent years, going from 3,802 five years ago to 7,561 in 2007. Between 1999 and 2007, the number of drilling permits issued for development of public lands increased by more than 361%!

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls proposals for drilling in the OCS a "hoax" by the Republicans to draw attention away from policies that have led to $4 dollar-plus a gallon gas.  Pelosi didn't mention her May 2007 pledge to make July 4th of that year "Energy Independence Day."

That pledge, it should be noted, came when gas was $3.07 a gallon.

...If it's not a hoax, then why don't you offer proof that she's lying? By the way, since that time, the GOP side of the Congress has stalled fixing problems in our economy at a greater rate than any other in the history of Congress. Wonder why?.

Senate President Harry Reid of Nevada revealed his personal distaste for the nation's primary energy sources when he said coal and oil make us "sick." Well, at least Reid is honest about his contempt for fossil fuels.

...If you don't think they make us sick, Mr. Kercheval, then I suggest that you try sleeping in your car while it's parked in your closed garage while the motor's running. Or you could save your self some gas and just suck on a tailpipe for a couple of minutes. As for coal making folks sick, you obviously never heard of the terms greenhouse effect, acid rain, groundwater pollution, or black lung. Just where are you from, anyway?

Unfortunately, West Virginia's Democratic delegation has jumped in line with the leadership on the drilling issue.  Yes, the West Virginia Democrats distance themselves from Reid's anti-coal comment, but they're repeating the company line on drilling.

It's particularly astounding to see West Virginia Congressman Nick Rahall, who is Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, so adamantly against opening up the OCS to more drilling.  Rahall represents a part of the state where the tops of mountains are shaved off to get to coal seams. If we can live with mountain top removal mining then certainly we can survive oil rigs off the county's coastline.  

...Anyone who thinks our mountaintops are being "shaved" off probably also goes fishing using dynamite, Dick Cheney-style.

Meanwhile, Democrat Anne Barth, who is running against incumbent Republican Shelley Moore Capito in the state's second congressional district, has joined the chorus against opening up more of the OCS and ANWR.  

Barth is now given a shot at beating Capito, but you have to wonder how much being the good Democratic soldier on the drilling issue will hurt her, especially if prices continue to rise in the fall.  A Rasmussen poll finds 60 percent of Americans favor offshore drilling.

...If you and your cadre of petro-propagandists would only publish the truth, then that poll would be quite different. Implying that drilling will lower prices is a lie. On the other hand, candidate Anne Barth has publicly stated that she wants to curb excessive speculation on oil commodities. Her opponent, incumbent Shelley Capito, has issued no public statement on this issue, and has been strangely silent even though as a member of the United States House Committee on Financial Services (or House Banking Committee) she oversees the entire financial services industry, including the securities, insurance, banking, and housing industries. I use the term "strangely" because her husband Charles Capito III is an investments manager for Citigroup, which recently sold $7.5 BILLION of their controlling shares to Abu Dhabi.

In fairness, OCS and ANWR drilling won't "solve" our oil needs or have an impact on current prices.  Opponents love to point that out.   But that opposition amounts to an admission of the ongoing failure by our elected officials to adopt a farsighted energy policy.

..."In fairness", that failure would have been on incumbent Shelley Capito's watch, not Anne Barth's, right? "In fairness", Capito's answer, along with yours, is to simply "drill more", when the truth is that nothing has been stopping them from drilling more in the first place!

The U.S. Minerals Management Service estimates there are 86 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the OCS.  Those are significant amounts for an energy-hungry nation.

...The OCS is really not so significant if we rely on the entire Department of Energy story. The fact is that the vast majority of federal oil and gas resources offshore are already available for development. According to the Minerals Management Service, of all the oil (85.9 billion barrels) and gas (419.9 trillion cubic feet) believed to exist on the Outer Continental Shelf, 82% of the natural gas and 79% of the oil is located in areas that are currently open for leasing (such as areas in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Alaska coast). So what's all the fuss about? Back in 2005, the DoE estimated that there are only 18 billion barrels of oil available in the OCS not open to developement, which is roughly double the reserves in the Arctic Refuge. So by 2025, drilling both in Alaska and the currently unopened area of the OCS would shave only about $2.25 off the cost of a barrel of oil. And that would have little to no impact on the price at the pump, either today or tomorrow. At best, Mr. Kercheval, your plan saves mere pennies on a gallon of gasoline 20 years from now, while putting billions more into Big Oil’s pockets!

We will still need oil and natural gas for many years to come.  Preventing drilling with the argument that it won't do any good now is like telling a high school kid not to bother going to college and graduate school because it will take five or six years to get a degree.

Start digging.

...You can "dig" clear to China, but as long as Big Oil can artificially inflate the price of their own product the price ain't comin' down. Proper legislation can close loopholes which will drop the price of gas by half. George W. Bush has a business degree awarded from an "ivy league" school, but even former WVU President Michael Garrison will tell you that a bogus degree is no substitute for using common sense.

The bottom line is that we need Anne Barth to help us climb out of the ditch in which Capito and Bush has buried us over the past eight years. Because they really aren't offering an answer at all, other than to do more of the same.

Care to "speculate" why that might be, Dean Kercheval?


"The House That Abu Dhabi Built"

Originally posted to One Citizen on Thu Jul 17, 2008 at 05:26 AM PDT.

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