How New Mexico Shapes the Off-Shore Drilling Debate
by fbihop, Wed Jun 18, 2008 at 07:58:26 PM EDT
This is crossposted at New Mexico FBIHOP.
You may wonder what New Mexico, as landlocked as any state, has to do with off-shore drilling. Let's just say isn't much threat of oil platforms dotting the landscape of Tingley Beach.
But with Pete Domenici as the ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Jeff Bingaman as the chairman of that same committee, New Mexico holds some significant sway in any energy policy discussion. Add in the fact that our governor, Bill Richardson, is a former Secretary of Energy under Bill Clinton and we have even more clout in energy policy discussions.
Read more about it below.
In the House, Steve Pearce is a well-connected oilman who has made his fortune (which is significant) in the oil business. His counterpart, Tom Udall, comes from a family of legendary environmentalists and is himself a favorite of the environmentalist movement. So we're also a complex state when it comes to energy policy.
Pearce and Udall are running against eachother in the Senate race.
And lately, the question of off-shore drilling has come into play as a major campaign issue. And New Mexicans haven't been shy about weighing in on whether or not we should be drilling.
Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) says "a vast majority of Americans now support deep-sea exploration because they understand that the best way to reduce gas prices is to reduce our dependence on foreign oil."I don't know where this "vast majority" lives, but I haven't seen any polling which bears this sentiment out. Only one question on one poll in PollingReport.com shows any mention of off-shore drilling; and only sixteen percent of Americans polled in that NBC/Wall Street Journal poll from June 6-9 thought off-shore drilling was the best idea to "address the rise in energy and gas prices."
As a point of reference, 27 percent supported solar and wind energies, the most of the six options.
So what about rescinding that ban on off-shore drilling? Well, as Environmentalist writes, there is no ban on drilling off-shore except in select areas.
First of all, there is no "ban" on drilling. In reality, there is a moratorium on drilling in certain coastal areas. Other areas are not only open to drilling but leases and drilling permits have already been issued. And they are not being drilled.They have significant areas of lucrative off-shore drilling areas open to drill. Open to get the oil and gas they so desperately desire. Yet they're not drilling it.
In fact, only 17% of the leased areas are in production. So, with about 33 million acres of offshore areas already available to drill and not being drilled, why does the oil and gas industry need to have access to still more? The fact is that tens of BILLIONS of barrels of oil off the coast of the United States are currently available for drilling ... and industry is not drilling it.
Would that mean the efforts by Domenici and John McCain are nothing but... political pandering?
In May, Bingaman outlined the problems in logic with this sort of pandering.
The United States currently produces 5 million barrels of oil a day and consumes 21 million barrels. According to the Energy Information Agency, the country had 21 billion barrels of crude oil in proven reserves at the end of 2006.Bingaman's stance on this seems to be borne out by the actual facts -- facts confirmed by the U.S. Government. According to the Energy Information Association, off-shore drilling isn't a good short-term solution. Or long-term, really. But let's focus on the short-term.
This represents a paltry 3 percent of total world oil reserves, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said last week in a speech on the Senate floor opposing the initiative to allow more domestic drilling.
"So if we want to affect the price of oil ... by increasing world supply, our ability to do so is limited," Bingaman said.
"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," the EIA wrote. Look at that year again. 2030. Not exactly short-term, is it?
As a point of reference: My brother became a father in May of this year. His kid can realistically graduate college by 2030 -- and drilling in the "Pacific, Atlantic and eastern Gulf regions" would still not have affected prices. So to say off-shore drilling is a magic bullet to bring us back to $2.00 gas prices is ridiculous pandering.
And Gov. Richardson, like Bingaman but unlike Domenici, has actually read these reports. Or at least deigns to mention them. His office issued a press release early this evening blasting hte Bush administration and McCain on this very issue:
"Lifting the moratorium on off-shore oil drilling of our most pristine coastal waters is another bad idea by this administration. This president's response for every energy problem is to drill and we can't drill our way out of this. It will take 10 years to fully get that oil out of the ocean, and prices wouldn't drop until 2030. Even John McCain's senior advisor acknowledged today that new offshore oil drilling wouldn't help lower current gas prices."We can't drill our way out of this," Richardson says. Remember that -- because it's true.
We need to aggressively pursue responsible options like energy conservation, better fuel efficiency for vehicles, investments into bio-fuels, and incentives for renewable energy such as solar and wind."
But, remember, this is just for new drilling areas. What about those areas that are already held by oil companies and open to drill? Why aren't the oil companies drilling these areas?
"They want to hold them as assets to limit the amount of oil and gas on the market so that prices rise still further - and they make more money," Environmentalist writes. "They want to hold on to these areas so that they can drill them ten or fifteen years from now when oil is at $300 a barrel and make an even bigger fortune."