Yes, the President made an appearance at the White House Wednesday morning to acknowledge that gas prices suck and we should probably do something. No, the President isn’t going to do anything meaningful and our gas prices will still suck.
First, let’s dispose of this canard: There is no ban on offshore oil drilling, at least not one that the federal government has any control over. There was a year-to-year moratorium imposed on new oil drilling leases by the Congress in 1981–and signed each year by President Ronald Reagan as part of the federal budget. President George H.W. Bush in 1990 issued a moratorium prohibiting the extension of new leases and pre-leasing activities to oil companies, and this was renewed by President Clinton in 2000. But again, this was a moratorium on new leases. According to the Tampa Bay Online, roughly 81% of the nation’s offshore gas and oil reserves are legally available for drilling.
Off-coast drilling is the purview of the directly affected states. And most coastal states don’t want to leave their beach tourism vulnerable to the drunken missteps of a Joseph Hazelwood and have their ocean destinations on heavy rotation on CNN and MSNBC for weeks while unwashed and unshaven kids embarrass their state by scrubbing harmless, stricken, and pathetic fowl.
The oil companies have leases on 68 million acres of land that aren’t being drilled. That’s an area the size of Colorado. Colorado. Have you ever driven across Colorado? It takes awhile. We’re not talking Tuvalu.
Congress last year–a Democratic Congress, no less–opened 8 million acres for drilling in the Gulf Of Mexico. We’ll go ahead with our tree-hugging hippie initiatives to encourage cars that run on brotherly love and hemp seeds, but we’ll be the bigger person and give you the oil. Go ahead and drill already.
And to date the industry hasn’t done boo. With hurricane season coming up, I can understand their trepidation, because there’s a lot on investment in infrastructure, and…no. A thousand times no. You have the leases, you have the drilling capacity, you have the largest quarterly profits in corporate history. You don’t need any more leases. Drill. Use it or lose it.
For all of us taking a wallop at the pump every week as a gallon of gas goes up five or ten cents, this is a bowl of thin gruel. Most Republicans last week left their integrity at the door and voted down the the windfall profits bill, which also would have killed the Enron loophole and put a Denver boot on oil futures speculation. There’s a lesser but still significant provision in the farm bill that had enough votes to quash a Presidential veto this week, so some relief might be on the horizon, but if you’re a betting man, you’re smarter to take the Miami Dolphins for a playoff spot next year.
The GOP’s solution is to open up the Alaska Nationan Wildlife Refuge for drilling. To hear the conservatives tell it, all we have to do is stick a big straw in our backyard and slurp, and we’ll have a belly full of cheap oil that would resuscitate the flagging SUV market and ignite talk of a 105 MPH federal speed limit.
An analyst from that liberal fish-wrapper, U.S. News and World Report, said to that Rachel Madow-on-Botox, Greta Van Susteren, on that socialist echo chamber, FOXNews, on Wednesday night that tapping ANWR would probably bring us…$1.44 off a barrel. Just for the sake of math, and assuming that the oil companies would pass the savings onto the consumer, oil closed today at $131.93, and if we pop that gusher in ANWR and oil plummets $1.44 a barrel, that’s going to mean 1.09% off at the pump. The station I buy my gas at is currently pumping regular at $4.24. If this happens…Jesus, that’s going to be almost, like, $4.19 a gallon. I can’t remember the last time I paid $4.19 a gallon. Oh wait, it was last week. Actually I paid $4.13 last week, but that was Tuesday. If I’d gassed up on Thursday, I would have paid $4.19.
In any case, it’s done. I’m buying that Hummer.
Wait. What? We’re not going to see any of that oil for ten years? Well, what the hell is up with that? How hard can it be? It’s like popping a zit. You just have to have a bunch of barrels ready to fill up with that cheap, delicious black gold.
The buzzkill about the ANWR motherlode is that when it does hit the market in 2018 or so, it’s only going to be 800,000 barrels a day. We’re currently devouring 20 million barrels a day. That’s a whole 4% of our daily fix.
There are a lot of gripes on the right that even though this payoff might be ten years or more off, we have to do something else, because if Bill Clinton had allowed offshore oil drilling eight years ago (again, it was a moratorium on new leases–repeat, repeat, repeat–and it was President George H.W. Bush’s Executive Order that set that in motion), we wouldn’t be in this mess right now, and we wouldn’t be slave to Middle Eastern oil.
President Jimmy Carter had a similar mess during his administration and helped initiate tax credits for people purchasing and installing solar panels on their homes, and even installed solar panels on the White House. That was 30 years ago. What did Ronald Reagan do almost immediately upon taking office? “Get those goddamned things off of my White House.”
Yeah, well, solar’s for hippies. And Carter and his dumb sweaters and turn-down-the-thermostats schtick. Heh. “Solar.” Fag.
I suppose I could just drink the Kool-Aid and stand by my President and mind the ramparts. Oil’s down, but it isn’t out, right? After all, nuclear’s almost in vogue, and there’s even talk of asbestos making a comeback. I could get behind that and meet the President halfway. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to buy a ten-speed to get there.