I have flipped my Republican dad and am working on flipping my Republican mom into supporting Obama in the fall. They live in central Ohio and are therefore very important electorally.
Unfortunately, the Republican offshore oil talking points have taken root in their house. Below is the e-mail I want to send them to win them back on the oil issue.
I would love any advice on editing, more talking points, more sources (they love nonpartisan sources, i.e. MSM). Do I have any factual errors because I don't want to get trapped in a partisan lie.
Please help me win Ohio!!!
Offshore oil-drilling is (or is going to be) a pretty big part of the Presidential campaign. Right now the Republican party is winning the argument in the media because they are promising cheaper gas and their solution fits into a 30 second news soundbite (Drill in the ocean and gas will get cheaper). The Democratic position is much harder to explain and is therefore losing because the media can't summarize it into a 30 second soundbite. The super-short version of the Democratic position is that the oil companies are trying to screw us, increased offshore oil production won't decrease oil prices, and investing in alternative energy is a better bet in the long run.
My goal is to explain the real truth without partisan bias (hopefully). I am going to do this by going through the points and then linking to reputable sources (newspaper articles, government reports, etc.) to verify my claims. This is going to be long and probably a little boring but please read it because I think it is a really important issue and if you know the truth neither side will be able to manipulate you.
So here we go.
The crux of the whole argument comes down to the following question: Will removing the moratorium on new leases for offshore drilling increase oil production and decrease prices at the pump, and if so in what time frame? Lets answer it.
What is the moratorium?
In 1981, Congress protected America's coasts, beaches, and marine ecosystems from the oil and gas development when they adopted the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Moratorium. The moratorium prevents the leasing of coastal waters for the purpose of fossil fuel development. Every year since then Congress has renewed the moratorium on new oil and gas development off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as Bristol Bay Alaska. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush authored an additional level of protection, which deferred new leasing until 2002 and Bill Clinton then extended in 1998 to 2012. George W. Bush removed the Presidential protection a couple of weeks ago but the Congressional ban still stands.
The moratorium covers 85 percent of the country's coastal waters -- everywhere except the central and western Gulf of Mexico and some areas off Alaska. See the map in link for areas that can and cannot be drilled.
Figure in the following 2006 MSNBC.com article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/...
15% of coastal waters are open for leasing (blue sections of the map). The map does not cover offshore oil rigs that were in place before the ban. They mainly exist in the Gulf of Mexico and off California.
Before we talk about opening up the other 85% of coast, lets talk about the open 15% (43 million acres).
The approximately 43 million acres leased OCS acres generally accounts for about 15 percent of America's domestic natural gas production and about 27 percent of America's domestic oil production. (http://www.mms.gov/...)
Unfortunately, they are currently only trying to produce oil on 23% of currently leased land (onshore and offshore). The 68 million acres (33 million offshore) of leased but inactive federal land have the potential to produce an additional 4.8 million barrels of oil and 44.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day. This would nearly double total U.S. oil production, and increase natural gas production by 75 percent. It would also cut U.S. oil imports by more than one-third, reducing America's dependency on foreign oil. Oil and gas companies are not required to demonstrate diligent development. Because of this, oil and gas companies have been allowed to stockpile leases in a non-producing status, while leaving millions of acres of leased land untouched.
Democratic members of the house have recently introduced a bill (H.R. 6251). This bill forces their hand by compelling them to produce or hand the over their idle leases for someone who will. For data in last paragraph, see: http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&a
One reason that oil companies are not currently willing to drill for oil offshore in lands they already have is due to how expensive it is and lack of equipment. According to the NY Times, there are not enough drilling ships to dig for oil where we know it is. A drilling ship costs about 500 million dollars.
Democrats argue that we should not open new leases for drilling until the oil companies have tried to find oil in areas they control (68 million acres). They believe that oil companies are playing politics and are just trying to stockpile offshore leases so they control the land when they choose to use it, presumably not in the near future or they would drill what they have.
In order to continue, we have to assume that if the ban were lifted oil companies would immediately begin drilling for oil in the newly available lands.
Would immediate drilling have an immediate impact? Republicans say yes. Democrats say no. John McCain splits the difference and says that the effect would be most psychological and would make people feel better but admits prices would change little in the short term.
John McCain: "I don't see an immediate relief, but I do see that exploitation of existing reserves that may exist -- and in view of many experts that do exist off our coasts -- is also a way that we need to provide relief. Even though it may take some years, the fact that we are exploiting those reserves would have psychological impact that I think is beneficial." See: http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/...
The majority of Republicans are arguing that drilling offshore would stop oil speculation and oil prices would drop due to the lack of speculation. Democrats believe that oil speculation should be limited by passing regulations and that if properly regulated oil would drop by about 30%. (name removed) e-mailed about speculation a couple of weeks ago. Here is his link: http://www.stopoilspeculationnow.com/
The organization he linked to endorses passing regulations to limit speculation. A bill limiting speculation was recently introduced by the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) but was blocked by Senate Republicans because they wanted to tie it to their bill to remove the offshore moratorium. See: http://www.boston.com/...
Another option that has been discussed is actually collecting taxes from oil companies that are taking oil from leased public lands. Due to negligence or corruption in the current administration, we have not been collecting the appropriate fees from the oil companies. Prepared by the Interior Department's inspector general, Earl E. Devaney, the report said that investigators found a "profound failure" in the agency's technology for monitoring oil and gas payments. The report suggests we have lost and will continue to lose around 10 billion dollars over the next decade.
That takes care of short term, but would immediate drilling have a long-term impact? Republicans say yes. Democrats say barely.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently did a detailed study of the likely outcome of offshore drilling for their Annual Energy Outlook 2007, "Impacts of Increased Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the Lower 48 Federal Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)."
Here are the three most important paragraphs:
The projections in the OCS access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production would not be expected to start before 2017. Total domestic production of crude oil from 2012 through 2030 in the OCS access case is projected to be 1.6 percent higher than in the reference case, and 3 percent higher in 2030 alone, at 5.6 million barrels per day. For the lower 48 OCS, annual crude oil production in 2030 is projected to be 7 percent higher--2.4 million barrels per day in the OCS access case compared with 2.2 million barrels per day in the reference case (Figure 20). Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.
Similarly, lower 48 natural gas production is not projected to increase substantially by 2030 as a result of increased access to the OCS. Cumulatively, lower 48 natural gas production from 2012 through 2030 is projected to be 1.8 percent higher in the OCS access case than in the reference case. Production levels in the OCS access case are projected at 19.0 trillion cubic feet in 2030, a 3-percent increase over the reference case projection of 18.4 trillion cubic feet. However, natural gas production from the lower 48 offshore in 2030 is projected to be 18 percent (590 billion cubic feet) higher in the OCS access case (Figure 21). In 2030, the OCS access case projects a decrease of $0.13 in the average wellhead price of natural gas (2005 dollars per thousand cubic feet), a decrease of 250 billion cubic feet in imports of liquefied natural gas, and an increase of 360 billion cubic feet in natural gas consumption relative to the reference case projections. In addition, despite the increase in production from previously restricted areas after 2012, total natural gas production from the lower 48 OCS is projected generally to decline after 2020.
Although a significant volume of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and natural gas resources is added in the OCS access case, conversion of those resources to production would require both time and money. In addition, the average field size in the Pacific and Atlantic regions tends to be smaller than the average in the Gulf of Mexico, implying that a significant portion of the additional resource would not be economically attractive to develop at the reference case prices.
The EIA is saying that prices changes will be insignificant because oil will be going to the global market not just to US consumers.
Democrats agree. Since normal market fluctuations would override these minimal discounts on the price per barrel of oil for this short amount of time, there would be no long term benefit to Americans with concern to the price of gasoline. As far as the reduction in imports is concerned, the increased demand from China and India would far outweigh any decrease in our demand, and thus OPEC and other oil producing nations would not be affected.
EIA is also saying that most of the offshore oil and gas is in hard to reach places and is not currently economically attractive to extract.
This is pretty long. I will send another report later concerning the environmental concerns with more drilling (the Coast Guard estimated that oil rigs hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita spilled more than 7 million gallons of oil into the Gulf.). I will also talk about alternative energy and why I think it is important to start now instead of waiting until we are screwed. The environment and alternative energy make up the second half of the Democratic stand on breaking the offshore moratorium.
Cross-posted at MyDD. I usually post there and lurk here but wanted a wider audience for help. Thanks in advance for ideas!!