How New Mexico Shapes the Off-Shore Drilling Debate

Note: Daily Kos diarist Environmentalist had a great guest post at Democracy for New Mexico on this subject.  Also a recced diary at Kos.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

"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 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."

"We can't drill our way out of this," Richardson says.  Remember that -- because it's true.  

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."

Tags: Bill Richardson, Energy, Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico, NM-Sen, Oil, Pete Domenici (all tags)



funny you wrote this

because I saw bill richardson on CNN with wolfe railing against drilling today , till suddenly after a break in commercial the man actually said drilling in his state of New Mexico was a good idea!

do as I say but not as wish to do? heh

by aliveandkickin 2008-06-18 08:49PM | 0 recs
Re: funny you wrote this

I meant " do as I say... but not what I wish to do.."

by aliveandkickin 2008-06-18 08:52PM | 0 recs
Re: funny you wrote this

I haven't heard what he said, but it would be interesting to hear.

But the off-shore debate is a political loser for the Republicans and fools who think it will actually DO something.  It won't.  And even if it did, it would take years.

THAT'S the real issue here.  Why the GOP are lying to us -- and that Democrats are willing to call them on their lies on the off-shore drilling issue.

by fbihop 2008-06-18 10:24PM | 0 recs
Re: funny you wrote this
There's a big difference between drilling on land already leased or owned by the oil companies (as in the 68 million acres already leased by oil companies, but never used) and going through months of legal wrangling, years of exploration and development of offshore facilities, don't you think?
You know how long it takes them to set an oil well on land already leased? About a year, and that includes a seismic crew coming in to find the best place to set the well.
by skohayes 2008-06-19 05:14AM | 0 recs
Re: funny you wrote this

Of course it's crock.  Richardson follows the money, that's what's important to him.  HE dabbles in something enough to make it look good for "marketing" himself and his resume, but that's it.  He retracts it later, after the initial speech and statement got in to the media.

Richardon only dumped his oil stock after he was running for Pres.  I guess he really hoped to hold on to it as long as possible.

AND...he won't fix what's going on in his own back yard, that he is GOVERNOR of.  He will not change the laws and allows the most amazing rights to Oil/Gas/Mineral companies.  They have precedence than even a home owner of their own land.  A shady deal in Santa Fe's Galisteo Water Basin is being fought, but he just put a temporary ban, hoping to ride it out until he's in the new administraton.  Which has been all he's been interested in.

That proves out in the train he pushed from Albuquerque to Santa Fe.  He said it would be a state expense under the transportation department.  When the Transportation Dept's strong arming to push the train finally went through(while the Gov was running for prez-it looked good on paper and he had the media all present) And rumor came out the the Dept of Trans was going to raise taxes to pay for it, Gov Richardson came out and said "no".  (he was still running then).  Now since his failed run, they are now disclosing they want the citizens to pay for this rail.  They ARE going to raise the taxes to help pay even though the first attempt fail, they will continue, because it's costing too much and they don't want their own projects to suffer.  Just like Billie boy did on his Space Port.  He got the citizens to agree to build it based on "it will bring new jobs"(sound familiar) and after they started building it, they were asked to pay for it with a tax increase.  An amazing private business expense that the tax payers are footing the bill, to help pay for his "sponsors" who keep his political career moving, using tax payer dollars for private deals.  THis one goes so far to actually pay to rent the land from private Ranchers, instead of buying the land in wide open space of New Mexico.  It always gets more unbelievable with Billie boy.  That one passed.  

So, if you want to keep up on all the fighting to stop all this drilling, even as they risk water aquifers, go here.

by thebluenote 2008-06-19 07:41AM | 0 recs

This was a good read.  I didn't know much about the environmental politics of New Mexico.  Its always nice to learn something new.  thanks.

by CAchemist 2008-06-18 09:04PM | 0 recs
Re: How New Mexico Shapes the Off-Shore Drilling D

Mccain just handed democrats a gift with his flip on the drilling issue .

It is an unprincipled move clearly to appease his critics on the right.

If Obama pounds away on the issue especially in a state like Florida , it would cost Mccain votes in that state.

He actually flipped in a span of about 2 weeks.  

by lori 2008-06-18 09:14PM | 0 recs
Re: How New Mexico Shapes the [snark]
ahh New Mexico, the land of enchantment.

[teach your citizens how to drive right!]
by alyssa chaos 2008-06-18 09:53PM | 0 recs
Re: How New Mexico Shapes the [snark]

just because other people use turn signals doesn't mean we have to!

by fbihop 2008-06-18 10:22PM | 0 recs
Great Diary

Very good point about the existing undrilled inventory.  Even though it would not substantially change the end-user economics (gas prices won't fall), at least it would direct more of the revenue away from the middle east and Venezuala to produce oil in the US.  But it isn't being done already, and suggesting that we could solve that by putting oil platforms off Clearwater Beach is asnine on every level.

Thanks for a great issue diary!


by chrisblask 2008-06-19 02:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Great Diary

You from Florida Cris? That would be Clearwater just north of Tampa/St.Pete? Correct?

I read about the oil exploration a couple of years ago. One of the areas for drilling is actually off the coast of Ft.Walton/Destin/GulfShores area. Hugh oil reserve there.  I don't remember any plans off of the Clearwater area.

Ft.Walton/Destin in Florida and GulfShores/Orange beach in Alabama. That area,with the exception of Alabama's Gulf State Park(Gulf Shores,Al) and the conservation land at Fort Morgan Beach(also Alabama), is so "chock a block" full of condos and hotels. I don't think they've see a "pristine coastline" since the days of the Red Neck Rivera. Well I take that back there's also the land owned by the federal government in Penscola, but I wouldn't think they'd be real upset to have an oil rig ruin their view. Don't know of any condos or tourist hotels there.

As for Clearwater. If it is in the Tampa/St.Pete area? That coastline is developed to the max. Did the huricanes take out the hotels? Last time I went there, unless you were staying at said hotels you had to walk through a maze of developement to get to the beach. I mean it is nice to ride your bike or take the shuttle but wasn't exactly "pristine coastline".

Sorry. "Pristine coastline" that's something you see in tourist and developer publications for the Florida Dept of Tourism. Does a "pristine coastline" even exist in areas other than maybe the area north of Tarpon Springs or south of Everglades City?  

Might be a different Clearwater,Florida though. That's why I'm asking.

Also,Chris if you are a resident of Florida, I'm curious how folks in Florida are taking China/Cuba drilling off the Coast of Florida. Mexico I think is looking at drilling in Gulf too. Don't for get that Venezuala has coast line...

Wonder if the new President will have to be dealing with Gulf Coast drilling treaties? Gulf of Mexico can get mighty small when Mexico, Venezuala, China, and Cuba all start looking in the Gulf trying to find that oil. What is the deal on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. I read about it. There was a map of mineral rights.

Been a while. I'm one of those cranky old feminists. I know some of the young buck feminists will know something about this. So how about it?

by 12 dogs and a blog 2008-06-19 09:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Great Diary

Oh, and I'm a resident of one of the coastal states who would be affected by the drilling. Have family members in EVERY state who would be affected. The Gulf Coast is my spiritual "home". Waterbaby. Daughter of salt water sail boat owners...

I'm a year round resident of a state with "skin in this game". Just so you know.

by 12 dogs and a blog 2008-06-19 09:21AM | 0 recs
How's that vacation going? ;-)

Actually Bradenton, just to the south of Tampa.

The folks I have talked to about drilling off the coast are adamantly against it.  But I'm a recent transplant (Gramma was the native - panhandle sharecropper's daughter) and don't know that many folks.  If I kept better touch with the extended Floridian family I could ask them, but my guess is most of them would be opposed as well.

My macro view is that it is a complex situation, and the full answer is probably a combination of a variety of things.  But I have a strong feeling that the position McCain is taking is a net loss unless there is some great argument waiting in the wings that moves some demographic in his direction.  It won't be the snowbirds and retirees, for sure.



by chrisblask 2008-06-19 07:19PM | 0 recs
Re: How's that vacation going? ;-)

LOL Chris, Well it was going good until I forgot to turn off the radio. And then I checked in with myDD to see what was up. And weeeelllll-- here I am posting. :D

I think it's a complex issue too. A political sterotype or "button" that folks push ot get folks pizzed off but never results in real change. "SAVE OUR PRISTINE BEACHES!SON'T DRILL FOR OIL!" folks shout. Meanwhile they develope the shore line like a rabbit warren. If you get a chance go see Destin and Ft.Walton. In my life time Chris, MY LIFETIME. Last time I went there I don't know that you could find the beach. And in Mississippi the plans are to develope that coast like Las Vegas south for really rich folks. My parents lived aboard their sailboat in the area until it just got way to expensive. If folks are really about saving the "pristine coastline"? The first thing their gonna have to do is find it. LOL Sorry  for the rant, I really am. I'm all for economic developement of the area, bringing in new jobs, mixing the old life with the new. I'm not even saying turn the whole thing into an area that DeSoto would recognize. But it would be nice, since the issue has been brought up, if it were a spring board for advocating for,I'll use another one of those "buttons", to advocate for "eco friendly" casinos. I should think it would be a selling point to the planned resorts. You can certainly imagine the drain on such services as sewer and fresh water. The electricity demand on poor ole Mississippi Power. Mercy knows the place is perfect for solar power. Heck they don't have to look any further than the Stennis Space Center to see an alternative sewage treatment system. The guy that developed it lived in Mississippi. Used it in his own house. Imagine. A low impact, ecofriendly resort. That doesnt' cost a fortune. That brings in tourism without squeezing out the locals.

Chris, I'm glad the Governor of New Mexico is worried about the "pristine coastline" along the Gulf. But while he's "angsting" about the oil drilling that may happen in the future, do you recon he could help out with the development issues in the present? I hear that they have their own issues out west. Like irrigated golf courses in areas where the residents are on water restrictions.

Going back to slackerdom. Only this time I am not going to turn on the radio. Wellll-- maybe I'll peek into myDD. :D

(Thank you for your response. Maybe we could collect up all ua GulfCoastal myDDers and do something nice for the Gulf. I'd stop this slacker summer for that anyday.)

12 dogs

by 12 dogs and a blog 2008-06-20 08:46AM | 0 recs
I'd like that

I would like to expand the virtuality of all this politicality and get together with some of the real people at the ends of this toobs and do some real things in the real world.  Apparently the vitual fish represented by bits embedded in the fibers have corporeal counterparts who swim in fluid matrixes, and they could use some help.

If you have any ideas where to start I might be capable of running with a ball of some description.



by chrisblask 2008-06-21 06:14AM | 0 recs
Re: I'd like that

LOL Chris

How about now.

Here's a door.

They are talking about the flooding and how there is inadequate flood protection.

Is anyone at myDD involved in river alliances along the Mississippi and other rivers flooding?

Iowa, Missouri , Minesota, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisianna, Mississippi. Alabama too as there is an alterate route to the Gulf of Mexico through Tennesee, maybe Mississippi, for sure Alabama.

Folks along the Ohio River too.

You know this can do two good things one is networking for ecological change but another is a way to help the myDDers and their comunity when they are faced with natural disasters. To help.

How about folks in Alabama, Georgia and Florida(esp the northern parts) These states have been involved in water negociations. Drought last year was horrid. There is rapid developement in Atlanta. First time I ever heard the Governor of Alabama get down right testy with the Gov. of Georgia. The health of the rivers are important because this water carries the quartz that will make those beaches. And I'm thinking you've got the power companies attention. The river levels were so low that the power company had to make up for power loss by using alternative power generation. I don't see why they can't make power with solar too.  Last summer it seemed all we had was sun. It's all interconnected.

The Great Lakes region?
I heard a program about the situation in the Great lakes. There's been positive changes but there are still problems. Here you have the combined interests of the river system and the areas on the Great Lakes.

The Gulf Coastal states?

It isn't just drilling. It's developement. A real oportunity to lead with eco friendly resorts. Changes to the ecology because of the inland droughts. Responsible redevelopement of the coastal regions hit by hurricanes. Ways to actually propose changes to recognize that Katrina isn't the last huricane that will hit the coast.

I dunno.


by 12 dogs and a blog 2008-06-21 01:58PM | 0 recs


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