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The Bush administration is making a concerted effort to force Congress into lifting the legislative ban on oil and gas drilling on the outer continental shelf (OCS).  Just the other day, he lifted the executive ban, in an attempt to push the issue and make the Democrats look like they are the reason gas is over four dollars a gallon.

Don't be fooled!

Perhaps no one in Congress is more supportive of President Bush's misguided effort to lift the OCS drilling ban than U.S. Representative John Peterson.  In a recent op-ed piece, Rep. Peterson stated that:

the U.S. Minerals Management Service estimates (conservatively) that the OCS holds 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas - the equivalent of 35 years of imported oil from OPEC and an 18-year supply of natural gas.

What Rep. Peterson or President Bush won't tell you is that the U.S. cannot drill its way to energy independence; and no amount of domestic drilling will lower the price of gas at the pump.

The Department of Energy, through it's Energy Information Administration, estimates that a total of 59 billion barrels of oil exists on the OCS, 32% lower than Rep. Peterson's figures.  More important, and what Rep. Peterson and President Bush do not want the public to know, is that the Department of Energy acknowledges that even if the U.S. drilled on the OCS, it

"would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030."

The Department of Energy further states that even if the U.S. drills on the OCS,

"because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant."

That's right.  The Bush administration's own Department of Energy admits that drilling on the OCS will be "insignificant" in terms of lowering costs for the American consumer.

Rep. Peterson's claim that drilling on the OCS would offset 35 years worth of imported oil from OPEC nations is nothing more than political pandering.  First, Canada is the largest exporter of crude oil to the U.S. In fact, nearly half of our imported oil comes from non-OPEC nations.  Second, the U.S. exports about half a billion barrels of petroleum every year, approximately one-quarter of total annual imports from OPEC nations.  If the U.S. just stopped exporting the petroleum it already produces, we could cut OPEC imports by 25 percent, without drilling one more well.  Rep. Peterson ignores this and simply calls for more drilling, even though there is no guarantee the oil and gas that would be produced on the OCS would not be exported as well.  

This raises the issue of not just how we reduce OPEC imports, but how we reduce our oil consumption overall.  Perhaps Rep. Peterson's most misleading statement in his op-ed was:

"America must produce more, conserve more and invest more in renewables."

This just goes to show how vapid Rep. Peterson's commitment to conservation really is.  You cannot produce more and conserve more.  More oil production simply induces more consumption.  Keep in mind that oil and gas drilling is already at record levels in many parts of the U.S. and, so far, there has been no corresponding reduction in fuel costs.

If we want to lower the price of gas at the pump, we must reduce our oil consumption.  Despite being just 5 percent of the world's population, the U.S. consumes 25 percent of the world's oil, roughly 7.5 billion barrels a year.  (For the previous link, you'll find total world oil consumption at the bottom and total U.S. consumption about half-way down).  This graphdemonstrates precisely why the U.S. must reduce demand rather than increase production.  I included the annual oil production of Pennsylvania just to show how insane drilling for oil is there when you consider our consumption.  And as I alluded to above, Pennsylvania is one of those areas where oil and gas drilling is at record levels.  

Reducing our share of total world oil consumption would do much more to lower prices than any amount of increased domestic drilling ever could.   According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the U.S. could easily reduce its oil consumption by increasing automobile fuel efficiency, reinvesting in public transportation and inter-city railways, creating tax incentives for hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles, and promoting smart growth initiatives that reduce suburban sprawl and, therefore, the need to drive.

Of course, this does not fit with Rep. Peterson's or the Bush administration's "drill here, drill now" agenda coined by the oil and gas industry, which stands to reap windfall profits at the expense of our forests, waterways and coastlines.

Increased domestic oil and gas drilling might make it seem like the U.S. is proactively addressing the problems we are facing today, but it does nothing but continue the ill-fated policies of the past that got us to where we are today - and it will do nothing to lower prices for Americans.  The answer to our energy problems must begin with conservation.

Conserve here, conserve now.

Originally posted to paprog on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 12:23 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank goodness (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, bfitzinAR, PvtJarHead

    Rep. Peterson is retiring!!  

  •  Bush could bring down gas prices now... (4+ / 0-)

    if he would release some of our strategic oil reserves.  With 7,000+ leases covering 68 million acres the oil companys have plenty of business in their inbaskets.  The idea that lifting the moratorium will do anything to the price of gas is laughable.  New leases would be pocketed by the oil companys and languish undrilled.  Bush, Cheney, and the oil companys have no interest in bringing down the price of a gallon of gas or a barrel of oil.

    "War is a Racket" - MajGen Smedley D. Butler, USMC

    by PvtJarHead on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 12:33:10 PM PDT

    •  While the extensive undrilled leases (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      paprog, PvtJarHead

      would remain undrilled, it is by no means clear that the leases in ecologically sensitive or important tourism areas would remain undrilled.

      I was a child in Santa Barbara in the 60's.  I grew up thinking it was normal to come home from the beach with globs of tar the size of platform shoes stuck to your soles.  It was too sticky to scrape off -- wee used to sit on the back stoop and dissolve it away with copious amounts of lighter fluid.  I still associate the smell of charcoal lighter with the feeling of sunburn and sand in my bathing suit.  

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 12:38:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well if their motive is simply to do evil... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        paprog, dwcal, lgmcp

        and their goal were ecological destruction they might drill close to shore, but I think their motive is profit.  

        They don't just want more money, they want all the money!  They want these new leases to ensure future profits.

        "War is a Racket" - MajGen Smedley D. Butler, USMC

        by PvtJarHead on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 12:46:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are correct that greed is the story (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          paprog, PvtJarHead

          but they want to drill close to shore simply because it is cheaper to drill there.  I'm sure cornering the market for future profits is involved also, but I think they would immediately exploit some of the more accessible (and impactful) areas that are currently under moratorium.  

          "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

          by lgmcp on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 12:48:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Probably right (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          A signed lease is a done deal, and a Republican BLM (or whoever issues offshore leases) would probably offer more generate lease rates than a Democratic BLM.

      •  wow. that's sad. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        paprog, lgmcp, PvtJarHead

        Being also a child in the early 60's, those times were among my last memories of the American landscape (PA and Appalachia mostly) before reckless exploitation overwhelmed what I used to think of as the same sights the pioneers once saw. Ofcourse, there was that coal mine under my aunt and uncles house that caused it to suddenly settle from time to time.

      •  That's one of my concerns (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lgmcp, PvtJarHead

        about the so-called "DRILL" (Drill Responsibly in Leased Lands) act.  I believe many leases are actually under formal protest due to environmental concerns.

        •  Since all their names are from backwards-land (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          paprog, lurks a lot, PvtJarHead

          (NCLB, "Clear Skies", "Health Forests", HAVA ...) ... I guess that actually means "Drilling to Ravage Leased Lands".

          "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

          by lgmcp on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 01:22:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  W's Daddy needs to womp that boy (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    paprog, lgmcp, PvtJarHead

    upside the head. He's done so many darn fool things in the last 7 1/2 years. Even Poppy knew to protect the delicate continental shelves from drilling to protect the coral reefs, the tourism and the beauty of our shorelines.

    "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - JFK

    by moose67 on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 12:40:29 PM PDT

  •  The AA solution? (0+ / 0-)

    Do we need to stop all exploration for oil so the price of gas can go on up to $10, $20 a gallon?  It may be going there anyway and we ought to do all we can to start the transition to a non-fossil fueled energy economy.  But just because we can't pin all our hopes on newly discovered oil doesn't mean we should be opposed to finding unexploited oil.  Also, we should put in all appropriate safeguards and use the proceeds towards developing renewable sources.  

    •  The U.S. doesn't have the supply (0+ / 0-)

      to meet our demand.  

      Again, look at this graph

      The U.S. proved reserves represents about a three year supply at our current demand (and not even one year of world oil consumption, which is the number that really counts).

      And as far as "appropriate safeguards," there really aren't any...particularly when you are talking about public lands that virtually lose all of their value for recreation and tourism once they have been converted to oil fields.  And the "safeguards" that exist today are anything but "appropriate," especially after 7 years of Bush eviscerating regulatory restriction for oil and gas development.

  •  your congressman's letter (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    paprog, lurks a lot

    is almost the same as my congressman's here
    (i couldn't provide the link to his letter in my paper, though, so i found Greenville's)

    my response (i used some of your links, btw) to his letter in our paper was not published -- go figure.

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