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Anti-Drilling "Snake Oil":

The Washington Post opposes oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and other ecologically sensitive areas. But the Post also opposes misinformation about offshore oil drilling spread by environmentalist groups and others. In particular, the Post takes aim at three myths about offshore driling:

  1. Drilling is pointless because the United States has only 3 percent of the world's oil reserves. This is a misleading because it refers only to known oil reserves. According to the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service (MMS), while there are an estimated 18 billion barrels of oil in the off-limits portions of the OCS, those estimates were made using old data from now-outdated seismic equipment. . . . there could be much more oil under the sea than previously known. The demand for energy is going up, not down. And for a long time, even as alternative sources of energy are developed, more oil will be needed.

  2. The oil companies aren't using the leases they already have. . . . The notion that oil companies are just sitting on oil leases is a myth. With oil prices still above $100 a barrel, that charge never made sense.

  3. Drilling is environmentally dangerous. . . . According to the MMS, between 1993 and 2007, there were 651 spills of all sizes at OCS facilities (in federal waters three miles or more offshore) that released 47,800 barrels of oil. With 7.5 billion barrels of oil produced in that time, that equates to 1 barrel of oil spilled per 156,900 barrels produced. That's not to minimize the danger. But no form of energy is perfect or without trade-offs. Besides, if it is acceptable to drill in the Caspian Sea and in developing countries such as Nigeria where environmental concerns are equally important, it's hard to explain why the United States should rule out drilling off its own coasts.

Drilling — offshore or anywhere else — is no panacea, and the drilling debate should not distract policymakers from considering ways to encourage the economical development of alternative energy sources (such as with prizes). Yet, as the Post notes, "with the roaring economies of China and India gobbling up oil in the two countries' latter-day industrial revolutions, the United States can no longer afford to turn its back on finding all the sources of fuel necessary to maintain its economy and its standard of living." In other words, we'll still need new sources of oil in the near-to-medium term.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Anti-Drilling "Snake Oil":
  2. Anti-Drilling Group Supports Drilling:
A Stoner (mail):
Economical developement of alternative energy. That is the kicker, no green would ever want that. The whole point of us having gotten into the mess we are currently in is that greens want us poor and destitute with a quickly dying off population.

I say drill here, drill there, drill everywhere. In fact if we just let nuclear power get back into the game, we could use nuclear power to generate the energy required to create new alternative energy sources for vehicles.
8.12.2008 8:23pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
The danger of spilling oil all over the Caspian sea and spilling oil off the coast of Florida seems like a big difference to me.
8.12.2008 8:34pm
Public_Defender (mail):
Leave whatever oil we have left for our kids. We're leaving them a giant deficit to pay for Bush's tax cuts and wars, we might as well leave them something of value.

As to environmental damage, if Russia wants to destroy itself to provide energy to the world, that's the stupidity of its leaders and, alas, the huge numbers of Russians who keep their leaders in power.
8.12.2008 8:49pm
Joe Kowalski (mail):

. . . there could be much more oil under the sea than previously known.

Well, if the data is outdated and potentially faulty, there also could be less oil out there. All this indicates is that there is a need for better information about what in terms of oil is out there. If there is more oil (and remember the cost of getting that oil out of the ground goes up exponentially the more difficult it is to get to), the question still remains, is there enough oil in the OCS, of the right kind of grades, to be able to change our import/export ratios sufficiently to improve our global strategic position, that it would worth the economic &environmental risks of potential spills? In my opinion, if the current numbers could be upward estimated by 3-4x, the answer would be an unequivocal yes.
8.12.2008 8:52pm
M. Gross (mail):
Public_Defender assumes at the future value of oil in the ground will be substantial. If alternative energy in fact flourishes, this will not be the case.

Just leaving resources undeveloped is a bet that they'll be worth more in the future, and as NPV generally demonstrates, this is almost always a bad bet.
8.12.2008 8:53pm
jgshapiro (mail):

Besides, if it is acceptable to drill in the Caspian Sea and in developing countries such as Nigeria where environmental concerns are equally important, it's hard to explain why the United States should rule out drilling off its own coasts.

The concern usually cited against offshore drilling is the concern that drilling will produce oil spills and that oil spills will destroy U.S. coastlines and the environment around them. That concern is not at issue if there is an oil spill that results from drilling in the Caspian Sea. The question is whether offshore drilling is more likely to generate a spill that destroys our coastline than ferrying oil drilled elsewhere to the U.S. in outdated tankers.
8.12.2008 8:57pm
p3731 (mail):
Why do you support drilling, other than the fact that environmentalists oppose it? I'm taking your post to be disingenuous, since you haven't bothered to seriously address any of the "myths" you've mentioned.
8.12.2008 9:06pm
Lib:

JK: the question still remains, is there enough oil in the OCS, of the right kind of grades, to be able to change our import/export ratios sufficiently to improve our global strategic position, that it would worth the economic &environmental risks of potential spills?

Would not the risk of spills scale roughly with the amount of oil being extracted and/or the number of wells? If there's little (possibly expensive to extract) oil, the spill risk is small (few wells, limited production). If, on the other hand, there's 3-4x more economically extractable oil than current estimates, wouldn't that mean there's 3-4x more spill risk if it's all extracted?

Why would more knowledge of the amount of oil available change the decision? If there's more than we think, we could decide to leave some of it in order to reduce spill risks. If there's less than we think, the spill risk is also lower than we think.
8.12.2008 9:07pm
Houston Lawyer:
Current technology greatly minimizes the risk of spills. The last big spill in the Gulf was on a rig run by Pemex. We have not had a significant spill in the Gulf in 25 years, despite numerous hurricanes.

Greens should just admit that they want us to freeze in the dark.
8.12.2008 9:19pm
pireader (mail):
Professor Adler --

Isn't materiality the issue here?

The 18 billion barrels of potential reserves sounds like a huge number, but it's not ...

The US consumes roughly 7 billion barrels of crude oil per year; the world consumes roughly 30 billion per year.

So that resource base, extracted all in a rush, would only cover US consumption for three years ... or the world consumption for six months. Then, after that one time, we're back in the hole.
8.12.2008 9:19pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Most "alternative energy," sources produce electricty, not high energy density liquid fuel we need for transportation. Without new battery technology, we are pretty much stuck with oil or coal-derived liquid fuel.
8.12.2008 9:25pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
Houston Lawyer wasn't there just an oil spill in the Mississippi river less than a month ago, quite a large one at that
8.12.2008 9:26pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
wait, didn't Katrina also cause an oil spill. I remember the pictures
8.12.2008 9:31pm
Dan Weber (www):
if Russia wants to destroy itself to provide energy to the world, that's the stupidity of its leaders and, alas, the huge numbers of Russians who keep their leaders in power.

It also means that Russia gets to destroy Georgia. Caught a segment on NPR this evening talking about how Germany gets a huge portion of oil from Russia, so Germany wasn't really able to stand up to Russia in the recent conflict.
8.12.2008 9:34pm
Joshua:
pireader: So that resource base, extracted all in a rush, would only cover US consumption for three years ... or the world consumption for six months. Then, after that one time, we're back in the hole.

But that does buy us three extra years to get alt-fuel infrastructures up and running. That's the real value of continuing to explore and drill for oil in the meantime - we will need all the infrastructure development time we can get.
8.12.2008 9:42pm
road2serfdom:
The price elasticitiy of demand for gas in the short run is -.2 meaning a 3% increase in quantity would lead to a 15%drop in price, or a 5% increase in quantity would lead to a 25% price drop.

It is imporatant to remember that the price drops at a greater percentage than the quantity increases.
8.12.2008 9:51pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
Well, if the data is outdated and potentially faulty, there also could be less oil out there.


Everything's possible. It could have turned back into dinosaurs, although the odds are against it.

Realistically, though, technology and the numbers don't work like that. To give a rather mediocre metaphor, if you take a picture of a big table with an old VGA camera, and then again with a modern 9 megapixel one, you're not going to see more salt with the former than with the later. You just don't have the resolution, especially when making a low-ball estimate is very important.
8.12.2008 9:56pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
The notion that oil companies are just sitting on oil leases is a myth. With oil prices still above $100 a barrel, that charge never made sense.


I'm sorry, but this statement sucks at actually convincing people, and moreover isn't that accurate. The oil companies are sitting on oil leases, because they have oil leases for land that has nearly no oil that can be recovered at 100 USD/barrel or even 150 USD/barrel. They're sitting on these leases because they're valueless.
8.12.2008 10:00pm
Randy R. (mail):
What about pro-drilling snake oil?

I can name a few. How about this one: If we start drilling for oil now, the price of oil will come down fast and far.

Or this one: The amount of oil we would find would solve all of our energy problems for many years.

Or this one: All oil drilled within the US will only be consumed within the US, and will not be sold on the open market.

Or: If we drill for oil, then we don't need to invest in conservation or alternative energies since they won't be needed any longer.
8.12.2008 10:09pm
ronbailey (www):
Nice little head fake you made there...

The fact that our knowledge of domestic oil reserves leaves something to be desired doesn't necessarily mean that we have MORE oil than the original estimate indicates - it could just as easily turn out that we have less.

The fact of the matter is, regardless of how much oil you locate off of Florida or Texas, or in ANWAR - it's going to be sold on a global market, not a national one. Producing more oil domestically does absolutely nothing to help us reach some type of energy independence. Dump more oil on the market, prices go down, and world-wide consumption increases, leaving us to face the exact same problem a few years later, with even fewer acceptable options to pursue.
8.12.2008 10:11pm
geophysicist:
After reading these responses, I think I now know why we have an "energy crisis" -- our policies have been developed by lawyers.

Maybe this is an area where you all might defer to the knowledge, judgment and wisdom of a few engineers, entrepreneurs and scientists?

Nah, that would spoil all the fun... reality bites.
8.12.2008 10:11pm
ChrisIowa (mail):

Houston Lawyer wasn't there just an oil spill in the Mississippi river less than a month ago, quite a large one at that


A barge on the Mississippi River is more vulnerable than an oil platform in the Gulf, or offshore elsewhere.

We need to get diverse sources of energy including oil and renewables. The oil sources must be spread out over many locations. A weather phenomenon such as a hurricane in the gulf should not cause a major disruption in the flow of energy, and it wouldn't if there were alternate wells on the other coasts to make up for the disruption. Likewise more refineries should also be constructed in various locations.

Developing a larger domestic supply also reduces the impact of oil on foreign policy, as well as helping the balance of payments, and the deficit, because of the taxes paid by oil producers.
8.12.2008 10:17pm
Oren:
The oil companies aren't using the leases they already have. . . . The notion that oil companies are just sitting on oil leases is a myth. With oil prices still above $100 a barrel, that charge never made sense.
Makes perfect sense to me. With the price of oil at $100/barrel, every piece of surveying, drilling and capping equipment is booked 5 years in advance. Anyone with experience in oil-related engineering is likewise booked (and charging premium rates).

Furthermore, most of those unused leases are deep in the Gulf of Mexico, where it is more difficult, expensive and time-consuming to drill. Oil companies would rather pick the low-hanging fruit (logically enough).

Finally, I think Congress is just mad at itself for exempting oil producing leases from their fees when oil was $20 and failing to insert a provision reinstating the fees if the price went up. Too bad the oil industry called 'no backsies'
8.12.2008 10:26pm
David Warner:
Randy R., if you send your strawmen to the Wizard for some brains, they might bring back an extra for you.

Speaking of snakes:
8.12.2008 10:33pm
alexanorak (mail):
The fact that myths fuel opposition to drilling is immaterial. The important thing is preserving the prestige of the pierced nose/dirty dreds segment of the population. Stripping environmentalism of its coercive power will just cause mental health caretakers to become overwhelmed.
8.12.2008 10:44pm
Oren:
Alex, environmentalism has 'coercive power' because a large proportion of American are rather in favor of moderate environmental regulation (e.g. nowhere near the european model). Read some polls about it . . .
8.12.2008 11:01pm
Sam H (mail):
We have a "lot" of oil:

The largest known oil shale deposits in the world are in the Green River Formation,
which covers portions of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Estimates of the oil
resource in place within the Green River Formation range from 1.5 to 1.8 trillion barrels. Not all resources in place are recoverable. For potentially recoverable oil shale
resources, we roughly derive an upper bound of 1.1 trillion barrels of oil and a lower bound of about 500 billion barrels. For policy planning purposes, it is enough to
know that any amount in this range is very high. For example, the midpoint in our estimate range, 800 billion barrels, is more than triple the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. Present U.S. demand for petroleum products is about 20 million barrels per day. If oil shale could be used to meet a quarter of that demand, 800 billion barrels
of recoverable resources would last for more than 400 years.

Oil shale development in the United States : prospects and policy issues / James T. Bartis... [et al.].
ISBN 0-8330-3848-6
RAND Corporation for The National Energy Technology Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy
8.12.2008 11:20pm
Elliot123 (mail):
<i>"The fact of the matter is, regardless of how much oil you locate off of Florida or Texas, or in ANWAR - it's going to be sold on a global market, not a national one."</i>

Another fact is that the revenue for that oil will flow to US companies in the US rather than the national oil companies of foreign nations. That money will not flow out of the US, but will remain in the US.

The profits it generates will flow to further energy development in the US, and to stockholders of the US companies. Over 50% of those stockholders are US pension and mutual funds. That money is then available for investment in the emerging alternative energy industry.

The royalties paid to the government will be paid to the US government, and American state gvernments, not a foreign government.

The jobs that additional production in the US creates will employ Americans. The suppliers of the pipe, pumps, turbines, control systems, and heavy equipment will be American companies.

The companies engaged to build these projects will be American engineering and construction companies. The subcontrators will be American subcontractors.

And, sometimes it makes sense to sell US oil to foreign nations. For example, at one time the US west coast refineries could not handle all the Alaskan crude. Getting it to the Gulf coast was very inefficient. It made much more sense to sell it to Japan and then buy the same amount from Mexico to feed the gulf coast refineries.
8.12.2008 11:20pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):

Or this one: All oil drilled within the US will only be consumed within the US, and will not be sold on the open market.


Repeat after me -- "Oil is fungible." Even if what we drill gets sold overseas, it'll drive down prices.

What people have to understand is that not every barrel of oil costs the same to extract -- the surrounding geology and terrain can significantly affect prices, and no oil company is going to bother with sources that cost $150/barrel if by the time they've extracted it the market price has dropped to $120/barrel.
8.12.2008 11:25pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):

If oil shale could be used to meet a quarter of that demand, 800 billion barrels of recoverable resources would last for more than 400 years.


Last I heard, oil shale won't be economically viable until oil tops $200/barrel. Unless the costs drop significantly, oil shale won't be economically viable until we've exhausted every other source of petroleum on the planet.
8.12.2008 11:33pm
Elliot123 (mail):
The Royal Dutch Shell and the Jordanian government have recently annonced an oil shale project which is forecast to be profitable because of 1) price, and 2) newly developed technology. Like all oil deposits, oil shale deposits vary in development and extraction costs.
8.12.2008 11:45pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

Last I heard, oil shale won't be economically viable until oil tops $200/barrel.



Can you source that, Sean? Back when oil was $20/bbl I always heard it had to be above $50/bbl to be viable.

p37 etc? See the orange part in "In particular, the Post takes aim at three myths about offshore driling:..."? That's called a "link". If you click that with the mouse-pointer thingie, it takes you to a whole 'nother page, which has the complete editorial. That's where you find the whole argument, including multiple references.

Good child. Not real smart.
8.12.2008 11:50pm
Smokey:
Before all the pro-$4-a-gallon libs get into any more of an uproar, let's look at the area in ANWR that we're talking about -- and it's very close to an area that's already given us many billions of barrels of oil since the '70's: click

Anyone who thinks there isn't a lot more oil under U.S. jurisdiction should talk to a petroleum geologist. They'll find out that the Dakotas alone have as much oil as Saudi Arabia.

And there are more multi-billions of barrels of recoverable oil offshore than have previously been extracted. It's just sitting there, waiting to be used. Only the 'mentalists stand in the way -- the same misguided folks who think that $4 gas is somehow good for us.

So enough with the phony claims that leaving it in the ground is a good idea; that sounds like telling a starving person that he should save his roast beef sandwich until he really needs it.
8.13.2008 12:10am
David Warner:
Better link to excellent editorial cartoon on this topic:

http://ariail.thestateonline.com/?p=331
8.13.2008 12:12am
byomtov (mail):
I've been hearing about oil shale for 40 years.
8.13.2008 12:17am
byomtov (mail):
the Dakotas alone have as much oil as Saudi Arabia.

At what price, Smokey?
8.13.2008 12:26am
byomtov (mail):
Back when oil was $20/bbl I always heard it had to be above $50/bbl to be viable.

And when oil is $200/bbl oil shale will be viable if oil hits $500/bbl.
8.13.2008 12:31am
LM (mail):
Houston Lawyer:

Greens should just admit that they want us to freeze in the dark.

Absolutely false. You're welcome to freeze any place you like.

(Actually, at oil > $100/bbl, I'm for leasing the OCS, provided California gets a market rate for the leases.)
8.13.2008 12:50am
Randy R. (mail):
"Randy R., if you send your strawmen to the Wizard for some brains, they might bring back an extra for you.


Really? I've raised nothing more than strawmen? Then please talk to Sean O'Hara, who stated "Even if what we drill gets sold overseas, it'll drive down prices."

Every estimate I've heard is that if we drain ANWR, it will lower oil by a few cents per barrel in about 20 years. They say it takes about 20 years from the start of drilling to bring it to your pump. Now, maybe others will quibble and say, no, it's only ten years, or fifteen. Whatever. The point is that is isn't going to make much impact one way or another. And that's not a myth.
8.13.2008 1:48am
Smokey:
We're going to get at that oil sooner or later. Do you want to share in the benefits of additional oil/gas ten years from now, or do you insist that we leave the oil in the ground for as long as politically possible?

Sooner or later, that oil will find a way out; there's too much money to be made. And every dollar that is made by an American company, for the benefit of 401-K, IRA-type shareholders, is a dollar that is not sent to the Middle East.

We're being foolish not using our resources to lower prices, provide tax revenues, and throw a scare into the oil speculators.
8.13.2008 2:17am
Oren:
The Royal Dutch Shell and the Jordanian government have recently annonced an oil shale project which is forecast to be profitable because of 1) price, and 2) newly developed technology. Like all oil deposits, oil shale deposits vary in development and extraction costs.
Excellent. Let them do the costly work of developing the technology, working out the kinks and bringing down the price.

We're being foolish not using our resources to lower prices, provide tax revenues, and throw a scare into the oil speculutors.
Normally, holding on to an appreciating resource is not considered foolish.

Oh, and those oil speculators are down about 25% in the last 3 weeks.
8.13.2008 2:59am
Kazinski:
What the environmentalists don't realize is that it is not a choice between oil and solar, but oil and coal. All over the world, Asia, Europe, Middle East, they are switching to coal because it is so much cheaper than oil. It isn't happening here, at least to any large degree, because of regulation and NIMBY. But any responsible environmentalist that actually cares about the environment rather than just wanting us to regress back to the stone age would be pushing for oil/gas/nuclear to reduce the lure of coal.
8.13.2008 3:15am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Why not drill in ANWR since it's in one of the remotest places on earth? ANWR is not the Grand Canyon which has millions of visitors and is unique. Since very few people will ever go there, what's the problem drilling on a tiny sub-area of fairly monotonous arctic tundra? Even if the amount of oil ultimately recovered is small, so what? That's the oil companies' problem so long as they don't create a mess over a wide area. Then again who will see the mess?
8.13.2008 3:19am
TruePath (mail) (www):
It's always seemed to me that drilling now is the threat to our national security. After all oil that we pump out now won't be there in the case of a future need. In particular if we leave our oil in the ground and buy from the Russians, Saudis and assorted other OPEC states then in the case of a future conflict or standoff (e.g. cold war type situation) we have our own reserves to tap even if some unfriendly power controls foreign sources of oil. On the other hand by drilling now and burning our oil rather than Saudi oil we risk being boxed in with a resource shortage.


Now there may be an argument for the government to pay to keep the trans-alaska pipeline open longer or otherwise reduce the time to start pumping domestic oil but even though oil drilling can take some time to start up the argument is still valid. Frequently before any conflict there is a period of tension giving a warning to start domestic drilling. Even if not it's still better to at least be able to drill than to have little oil left.
8.13.2008 7:48am
Public_Defender (mail):

Public_Defender assumes at the future value of oil in the ground will be substantial. If alternative energy in fact flourishes, this will not be the case.


Then our kids will be doubly lucky. First, they have viable, affordable, clean energy. Second, we will not have soiled their environment. Leaving the oil in the ground is a win for our kids no matter what happens to alternative energy.
8.13.2008 8:33am
FantasiaWHT:

Excellent. Let them do the costly work of developing the technology, working out the kinks and bringing down the price.


And let them do it with (more likely than not) significantly lower environmental protections than we would! It always amazes me that environmentalists would rather have us rely on oil produced by countries with very low environmental standards than have us get it ourselves, under some of the strictest guidelines in the world.
8.13.2008 10:02am
Sarcastro (www):
The key here is to take the short view and work on something that might help us in five years!

This is totally not about politics, it's super important for our future!
8.13.2008 10:20am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
public:

Leaving the oil in the ground is a win for our kids no matter what happens to alternative energy.


Indeed. And since we're forcing our kids to inherit a huge Chinese credit-card bill, it would be nice if we also left them some tangible assets, instead of consuming those assets for our own advantage as quickly as possible.
8.13.2008 10:44am
Dan Weber (www):
Normally, holding on to an appreciating resource is not considered foolish.

Oh, and those oil speculators are down about 25% in the last 3 weeks.

Wait, which is it? Is the oil getting more or less valuable?

Of course, there's no such thing as an "appreciating" resource. People frequently make this mistake about the stock market: they don't sell a stock because "it's going up," when what they mean to say is that "it just went up recently." But right now, at this very moment, the stock price is stable. In fact, the best time to sell a stock is after it has gone up, because that's how you keep a diversified portfolio.

There are certainly other arguments to be made against drilling, and I don't think it's an open-and-shut case, and I definitely don't think it will significantly reduce prices (although it doesn't matter at all where the oil is sold on the world market as to how much prices fall).

But if the question is "when is oil most valuable to sell?" then you need to realize that oil can be manufactured from carbon-free energy sources, such as solar or wind or nuclear. It's definitely more expensive that pumping it out of the ground, but it's not infinitely expensive. If you don't know where those breakeven points are, you don't know what the best economic strategy is for when to sell oil.
8.13.2008 10:47am
shawn-non-anonymous:
Kazinski: "What the environmentalists don't realize is that it is not a choice between oil and solar, but oil and coal."

Well, sort of. They understand that a high price for oil will increase demand for substitutes like coal. I would imagine there are environmentalists with education in economics.

"It isn't happening here, at least to any large degree, because of regulation and NIMBY."

It's that NIMBY thing you should pay the most attention to. It means a majority of Americans feel that coal has negative environmental impacts. This may also explain why the regulations are there. Environmentalists are in the mainstream on that issue.

"But any responsible environmentalist that actually cares about the environment rather than just wanting us to regress back to the stone age would be pushing for oil/gas/nuclear to reduce the lure of coal."

You've snuck "nuclear" in there, which is interesting. There is a weakening of the anti-nuclear sentiment within the environmental movement. Several well-known environmentalists have made public comments that they support certain forms of nuclear power.

The charges that environmentalists are "out of touch" or "irresponsible" or "want us to freeze" are plain silly.

As a related aside, have you seen the recent MIT research that uses a simple catalyst to remove oxygen from water under the sorts of current you get from solar power? It uses no platinum and is apparently simple enough to go to market rather quickly.
8.13.2008 10:50am
Virginian:
The anti-drilling folks say we shouldn't drill because drilling, by itself, won't completely solve the problem and won't solve it fast enough. Instead, we should wait for some magical new technology that is apparently right around the corner.

Why are the anti-drilling folks even opposed to exploration using current technology? Because they are afraid that we will discover that the US is sitting on a shitload (that's the technical term) of oil, and that will blow away many of their anti-drilling arguments.
8.13.2008 10:56am
SATA_Interface:
Can I get a nuclear-powered car yet? I think there was a prototype Ford Atom at one point...
8.13.2008 11:04am
Houston Lawyer:
And as to the myth that the oil companies are sitting on leases on which they will not drill, that would be contrary to the terms of the leases. An oil and gas lease has an initial term of a few years. After that period, the lessee may only keep its interest in the lease if it drills for oil. If the lessee doesn't produce oil within a period of time, the lease reverts back to the lessor. Except for a few leases in the deep Gulf, the lessor, which for offshore leases is the MMS, gets cost-free royalties from all production. If you don't produce, MMS will send you a letter saying they are going to terminate the lease. My clients get these letters regularly.
8.13.2008 11:15am
BillW:
"ronbailey": Dump more oil on the market, prices go down, and world-wide consumption increases, leaving us to face the exact same problem a few years later, with even fewer acceptable options to pursue.

A few years later we'll have more options to pursue, as algae oil, cellulosic fuels, shale oil, etc. will have had more time to move from research to development to commercial production.

shawn-non-anonymous: As a related aside, have you seen the recent MIT research that uses a simple catalyst to remove oxygen from water under the sorts of current you get from solar power? It uses no platinum and is apparently simple enough to go to market rather quickly.

I haven't heard about "quickly". And I remain unconvinced about the relevance to solar power. Rather than electrolyzing water in the middle of the day, when power sells at peak rates, it makes more sense to do it in the middle of the night, using cheap coal power. Or much better, nuclear power.
8.13.2008 11:59am
Duncan Frissell (mail):
Leave whatever oil we have left for our kids

Since our kids will be vastly wealthier than we are as we are vastly wealthier than our parents (do you know what a $300 Dell system unit is worth at a 1966 tech level?). Illegal day laborers waiting for work while chatting on cellphones?

Computers were just the first fruits of nanotech. The rest will increase wealth even more.

Drill Now!
8.13.2008 12:16pm
Oren:

That's the oil companies' problem so long as they don't create a mess over a wide area. Then again who will see the mess?

Except that they often do create a mess over a wide area. Often times the shell company that operated the lease is dissolved or bankrupt and we are all left holding the bag for cleanup while the profits magically disappear. I wouldn't mind drilling in ANWR if I had faith that the company taking the lease was strictly responsible for obeying the campsite rule.
8.13.2008 12:52pm
Oren:
Wait, which is it? Is the oil getting more or less valuable?
There was a bit of a panic in the past few months, and so it stabilized in the $120 region. Long term, however, I don't think it's going under $80 in the next decade (80% confident in that one).
8.13.2008 12:55pm
Randy R. (mail):
"All over the world, Asia, Europe, Middle East, they are switching to coal because it is so much cheaper than oil. "

And all over the world, partciularly in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, they are investing in technologies that will be alternatives to oil and coal because they know that oil won't last much longer, and coal is too dirty and produces it's own problems that are costly.

Smart people know that although the cost of coal is cheaper than oil, the externalities are far more costly, in terms of health care and environmental degredation and so on. It's hard to grow wheat when they are coated with coal emissions.
8.13.2008 1:12pm
Randy R. (mail):
Virginian: "Why are the anti-drilling folks even opposed to exploration using current technology? Because they are afraid that we will discover that the US is sitting on a shitload (that's the technical term) of oil, and that will blow away many of their anti-drilling arguments."

Really? I guess you are right. I'm just trembling with fear!

But I can play that game as well.

Why are the pro-drilling folks opposed to alternative energies? Because they are afraid that we might find a way to make solar and wind and other sources that will blow away many of their pro-drilling arguments.
8.13.2008 1:15pm
Sarcastro (www):
Randy R. and Virginian the important thing to note is that both sides are in it for money and want to destroy America.

But I'm secure that nanotechnology will save us all.
8.13.2008 1:20pm
DeezRightWingNutz:
Most "alternative energy," sources produce electricty, not high energy density liquid fuel we need for transportation. Without new battery technology, we are pretty much stuck with oil or coal-derived liquid fuel.

People always say this. I'm skeptical. While I'm no technocrat, I'm sure there are (expensive) ways of using electricity for transportation. Aren't many light-rail systems run on electricity? When the power source is decoupled from the vehicle, doesn't low energy density become less of a problem?
8.13.2008 1:32pm
jpe (mail):

Another fact is that the revenue for that oil will flow to US companies in the US rather than the national oil companies of foreign nations. That money will not flow out of the US, but will remain in the US.

That's, at best, speculative. Much of the money earned offshore by foreign subsidiaries is kept off-shore for tax purposes.
8.13.2008 1:36pm
DeezRightWingNutz:
geophysicist said:


After reading these responses, I think I now know why we have an "energy crisis" -- our policies have been developed by lawyers.

Maybe this is an area where you all might defer to the knowledge, judgment and wisdom of a few engineers, entrepreneurs and scientists?

Nah, that would spoil all the fun... reality bites.


Why don't you use your powers of sarcasm and science to invent neo-flubber and sell it for a bazillion dollars, glavin!?!
8.13.2008 1:41pm
Sarcastro (www):
[DeezRightWingNutz

The best part of that retort was the "neo" in front of "flubber."

Because just plain flubber would be silly.]
8.13.2008 1:47pm
Virginian:

Why are the pro-drilling folks opposed to alternative energies?


Because most of them have one or more of the following drawbacks: less reliable, less efficient, more costly, use more energy to produce than they provide, unable to be scaled up enough to meet all of our demands, cannot power the current automobile fleet, are not readily available, require expensive new infrastructure, depend on some future magical technology that does not exist or at the least is not ready for prime time...

Even though alternative sources have all these drawbacks, many (most?) pro-drilling people advocate an "all of the above" approach.
8.13.2008 1:50pm
Sarcastro (www):
Virginian: whereas the anti-drilling folks see no drawbacks at all to remaining on the petrolium standard.

Those guys are only in it for money and want to destroy America.
8.13.2008 2:02pm
PC:
I think it is a wise decision to yell and scream to get the government to do something about the high price of oil. Real conservatives like me always demand government action as a first resort.
8.13.2008 2:19pm
Virginian:

whereas the anti-drilling folks see no drawbacks at all to remaining on the petrolium standard.


The major drawback of oil is that too much of it comes from bad guys. Exploiting US supplies will alleviate that problem.

Of course I recognize that the anti-drilling folks are also true believers in the church of AGW, so they imagine much bigger drawbacks. I, on the other hand, am an AGW atheist.
8.13.2008 2:32pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> and remember the cost of getting that oil out of the ground goes up exponentially the more difficult it is to get to

No, it doesn't. It goes up proportionally to the difficulty. In other words, where it is twice as difficult, the cost is twice as high. Four times as difficult, four times as high.
8.13.2008 2:37pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> Why are the pro-drilling folks opposed to alternative energies?

They don't.

Surely you're not confusing "unwilling to do alt only and unwilling to subsidize it" with "oppose".

Feel free to invest as much of your money as you'd like in alt energy. If you're correct, you'll get rich and do good. Folks who backed the wrong horse will lose their money. What better result could you hope for?

Huh? You're not willing to risk your money? But you tell me that it's a sure thing....
8.13.2008 2:40pm
erics (mail):
Sweet argument on #2: It's a myth b/c I say it is.
8.13.2008 3:30pm
Aultimer:

A. Zarkov (mail):
Why not drill in ANWR since it's in one of the remotest places on earth? ANWR is not the Grand Canyon which has millions of visitors and is unique. Since very few people will ever go there, what's the problem drilling on a tiny sub-area of fairly monotonous arctic tundra? Even


It's fun to watch righty "conservatives" argue for quick change to policies that seem to be working in the predictable manner, while lefty "liberals" argue for stasis because of unanticipated consequences (or inevitable catastrophe) of change. Makes libertarians seem honorable, instead of just smart.;)
8.13.2008 3:30pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Randy R sez: 'What about pro-drilling snake oil? I can name a few. How about this one: If we start drilling for oil now, the price of oil will come down fast and far.'

I've never heard that one, although it's a big Internet, so maybe Randy has.

However, I buy gas now, so I'm glad somebody was drilling for oil seven years ago, and I intend to be buying just as much gas seven years from now, so I hope somebody is drilling today.
8.13.2008 3:34pm
Anonymous #1551551991:
llamasex,
wasn't there just an oil spill in the Mississippi river less than a month ago, quite a large one at that
The barge's own fuel supply leaked, and its cargo did not.
8.13.2008 3:42pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
The barge's own fuel supply leaked, and its cargo did not.


What on earth are you talking about. A barge is an unpowered vehicle, and does not have its "own fuel supply."

A barge carrying a cargo of oil was hit by an oil tanker. The oil tanker did not spill, but the barge's cargo was discharged into the river. Or at least 280,000 gallons of it.
8.13.2008 3:59pm
languagemat:

A barge is an unpowered vehicle, and does not have its "own fuel supply."


.

Noun

Singular
barge


Plural
barges

barge (plural barges)

1. A large flat-bottomed towed or self-propelled boat used mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods or bulk cargo
8.13.2008 4:23pm
Randy R. (mail):
"Huh? You're not willing to risk your money? But you tell me that it's a sure thing...."

Actually, investment in alternative energies is at an all time high. Germany is the leader in alternative energy research. No. 2? China. So yes, those countries will be the big winners when their investments pay off. The US is around No.12.

"Because most of them have one or more of the following drawbacks: less reliable, less efficient, more costly, use more energy to produce than they provide, unable to be scaled up enough to meet all of our demands, cannot power the current automobile fleet, are not readily available, require expensive new infrastructure, depend on some future magical technology that does not exist or at the least is not ready for prime time... "

Yup, they do now. Part of that is because they don't have the efficiencies of volume. If a lot of solar technology were purchased, prices would come down even further than they already have, for instance. Part of this is a chicken/egg problem. We need to have demand in order to spur alternative energies to get more efficient, but we don't have that demand because there are few of those efficiencies. This is where gov't has a role to play -- help stimulate demand through various forms of stimulus, mandates (like having all new gov't buildings obtain 20% of their energy from alternative energies), R&D, tax incentives and so on.

The US should be one of the leaders in clean energy, instead of being way down the list. That will help secure our energy and financial futures.
8.13.2008 4:24pm
Randy R. (mail):
Harry: "However, I buy gas now, so I'm glad somebody was drilling for oil seven years ago, and I intend to be buying just as much gas seven years from now, so I hope somebody is drilling today."

So am I. And I don't like the fact it costs me $60 to fill my tank. But there is a limit to the amount of drillable oil in the world, and yet demand is rising, including places like India and China. So prices are going up no matter what, at least over the long term. Shouldn't we be adjusting for that now? Or should we wait until it happens, and we are blindsided all over again?

I'm not really opposed to drilling -- it actually is much safer than in the past. But what I object to is this notion that we just need to drill for oil, and our we can go back to the 1950s (or least the Clinton years) of big cars and cheap energy.

We must invest in a post-oil world now while we have the luxury of time. You say you are glad that people were drilling 10 years ago so that you have gas for your car now. How about this one: Don't you wish we had invested more in public transportation, and planned our suburbs better 10 years ago, so that we would be better prepared for the rise in price now?
8.13.2008 4:30pm
Suzy (mail):
Thanks... I got an enormous chuckle out of the idea that the acceptable environmental consequences of drilling in Nigeria should inspire us to drill off the U.S. shores.
8.13.2008 5:05pm
Oren:

Huh? You're not willing to risk your money? But you tell me that it's a sure thing....

Depends on what the rules are and how they will change. If the coal power industry is allowed to strip mine mountains, destroy streams and emit any blend of particulates they like, I wouldn't bet on solar. On the other hand, if they have to be good stewards, solar might be a better idea.
8.13.2008 5:25pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
languagemat:

A large flat-bottomed towed or self-propelled boat


You got that from wiktionary, and I think it's not quite right. The exact answer you get depends on what dictionary you look at. See here:

a roomy usually flat-bottomed boat used chiefly for the transport of goods on inland waterways and usually propelled by towing


Or here:

A long, large, usually flatbottom boat for transporting freight that is generally unpowered and towed or pushed by other craft.


Or here:

a large, long, flat-bottomed boat that is used for carrying freight and is not self-propelled.


Anyway, in this instance the barge was definitely not self-propelled. It was being propelled by a tugboat.

One more thing. If the "barge's own fuel supply leaked," as the commenter claimed, it would not have spilled 280,000 gallons. I seriously doubt that any self-propelled barge has a fuel supply that large. A typical fuel capacity for a tugboat is about 36,000 gallons.
8.13.2008 5:58pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
The major drawback of oil is that too much of it comes from bad guys. Exploiting US supplies will alleviate that problem.

This is an absolutely ridiculous statement. At best it will increase production in the U.S. by five percent or so. The more likely scenario is that it will simply make up for declining production in existing U.S. fields. Since we import about 60% of our oil, even if every drop stays here in the good 'ol USA, it is going to do very little to reduce our reliance on foreign oil.

The reason that many are skeptical of increased drilling is that it simply puts off the day of reckoning--and not by very long.
8.13.2008 6:06pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
If the "barge's own fuel supply leaked," as the commenter claimed, it would not have spilled 280,000 gallons.

Actually the spill was closer to 400,000 gallons and it shut down the Mississippi to navigation for almost a week and forced several communities to close their water intakes for a couple days.
8.13.2008 6:08pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
"Actually the spill was closer to 400,000 gallons"

That's what early reports said, but the number was later reduced. Either way, it's still a shitload of oil. See here:

Mississippi River Oil Spill Smaller Than First Thought … on Tuesday, the Coast Guard will hold a hearing about the wreck that spilled about 254,000 gallons of tar-like fuel oil down the Mississippi River.

A tanker hit a barge carrying 419,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil on July 23. Officials thought it might all have spilled.

But Coast Guard Petty Officer Larry Chambers says that a cargo surveyor certified that 136,000 gallons of pure oil were pumped out of the barge before it was hauled out of the river in two chunks Saturday and Sunday.

That indicates that one of the three tanks apparently had remained intact.
8.13.2008 6:34pm
Dan Weber (www):
If the coal power industry is allowed to strip mine mountains, destroy streams and emit any blend of particulates they like, I wouldn't bet on solar. On the other hand, if they have to be good stewards, solar might be a better idea.
If we replaced the income tax with a carbon tax, solar would be more economical than coal.

Production would no longer be taxed, which is the dream of supply-side economists, so the conservatives couldn't possibly object. And it would be guaranteed to dramatically reduce CO2 production, and probably require something very much like (but not quite the same as) Kyoto to make sure we don't just shove energy consumption off shore, so the liberals couldn't possibly object.

I kid, of course. The conservatives wouldn't go for it because it'd give the greenies a victory, and the liberals wouldn't go for it because it doesn't make the rich suffer enough for their sins.
8.13.2008 6:44pm
KZOO (mail):
We need to drill here in our own land. I'm tired of us meddling in the affairs of other countries because we NEED THEIR OIL.
8.13.2008 6:51pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Don't you wish we had invested more in public transportation, and planned our suburbs better 10 years ago, so that we would be better prepared for the rise in price now?'

No, I don't. I live in the country. Public transportation and crowded suburbs hold no appeal for me. My truck was fully depreciated sometime during the first Clinton administration, so I can easily afford the $85 fillups (gas is $4.64 today here).

The gummint spent $10 million in my county 10 years ago to demonstrate that you could make 'medium-density motor fuel' from grass. It's true. You can. And for $10 million, you get about $1 million worth of fuel.

I wish less had been spent 10 years, but that what was spent was directed by people who had a clue.
8.13.2008 7:02pm
BillW:
Randy R. But what I object to is this notion that we just need to drill for oil, and our we can go back to the 1950s (or least the Clinton years) of big cars and cheap energy.

You're in luck — pretty much nobody holds this notion.
8.13.2008 7:46pm
Public_Defender (mail):
Where do pro-drilling people get the idea that drilling in the US will decrease environmental damage in Nigeria or Russia? It won't. They don't want to substitute damage in the US for damage abroad, they want both places to be damaged.
8.13.2008 7:55pm
Joe Kowalski (mail):
<blockquote>
We need to drill here in our own land. I'm tired of us meddling in the affairs of other countries because we NEED THEIR OIL.
</blockquote>
If the stated goal of dramatically lowering our oil imports is the point of opening up the current off limits area, then based on what we know now, the proposed solution fails to meet that goal. Unless there is far more oil in the OCS and ANWR than we know about, at most the extra drilling at peak production will make a small dent in our oil imports. This doesn't necessarily mean that opening up the closed ares isn't worth doing, it just means that there needs to be more compelling and attainable goals for it to be worth the risks.
8.13.2008 8:39pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"That's, at best, speculative. Much of the money earned offshore by foreign subsidiaries is kept off-shore for tax purposes."

80 miles offshore? The US controlled Gulf of Mexico production does not support your idea.
8.13.2008 9:46pm
Randy R. (mail):
Harry Eager: "I wish less had been spent 10 years, but that what was spent was directed by people who had a clue."

Glad you live so off the grid that nothing affects you. However, I would suspect that if we HAD invested more in public transportation in the past, and also designed our suburbs so that you don't have to get in a car for absolutely every errend, then demand for gas would be less today. Less demand equals lower prices for everyone.

Considering the fact that billions of dollars is leaving the country now and going to forieng countries, one would think that any decent American would think that's crazy, and that the money should stay here. By driving less, that would happen. Unfortunately, our society is set up so that driving is a necessity in almost every place you live. It;s really sad that we have boxed ourselves into a corner where cars are the sole choice of transportation -- I think a healthy society would offer choice: cars, buses, trains, bicycles, walking. Many of the alternatives are healthier for us, give up less pollution, and consume less carbon-based fuels, all the while advancing new industries that create jobs. It's win - win for everyone.
8.14.2008 12:25am
David Warner:
"Where do pro-drilling people get the idea that drilling in the US will decrease environmental damage in Nigeria or Russia? It won't. They don't want to substitute damage in the US for damage abroad, they want both places to be damaged."

Sorry for taking so long to respond, but I had to go take a sledgehammer to all my neighbors cars first. Must be nice living in a 4-year-old's world.
8.14.2008 12:28am
Randy R. (mail):
Harry Eager: "I wish less had been spent 10 years, but that what was spent was directed by people who had a clue."

Just curious -- how much did your gummit spend on building new roads or expanding existing ones in the last 10 years? How much did they subsidize new developments that are solely dependent upon car transportation? How many tax and other incentives were spent on such projects?

I suspect quite a bit. I would hope that you are just as upset over those expenditures as you are on others, because you ought to be.
8.14.2008 12:28am
Randy R. (mail):
Okay, it;s late and I drank a bit too much tea this evening...

It wasn't too long ago that in almost every city, you had a system of public transportation that was cheap, fairly clean and went everywhere you wanted to go. Streetcars, cable cars, trolleys -- they took you from the outer suburbs to the city, and you could cross the city at major intersections. Then some cities even had beltway railroads which could get you fast from one end of town to another.

On top of that, there were interurban trolleys and trains that connected from the outskirts of the major cities to other cities. You could travel from any point to any point in a city, and from city to city without ever needing a car.

Why did we get rid of it all in favor of cars? Had we kept those old systems, the need for cars would be significantly less. Had we kept developing the surburbs along those lines, we wouldn't need cars nearly as much. Of course, those who want them could still use them. The point is that you would have *options* to get to work. did you break your leg? You can still get to work via a trolley if you can't drive a car.

The demand for gas would be significantly less, we would be walking a bit more (good for the waistline) and less of our income would be spent on transportation (good for the home budget). I'm not sure we can recreate all that - the expense would be enormous. So unless gas soars to $10 a gallon, or so, that just won't happen. But if it does, everyone here will be screaming for public transportation.
8.14.2008 12:35am
Elliot123 (mail):
"Why did we get rid of it all in favor of cars?"

We didn't get rid of it all. Chicago and New York are examples. DC, San Fran, LA, and Atlanta have relatively new subways. Those lines that were discontinued were due to people's free choice to buy cars and drive.
8.14.2008 12:58am
TokyoTom (mail):
Jon, I'm surprised that you could post this without providing ANY libertarian viewpoint whatsoever.

Not only that, you buy into the Post's fuzzy Beltway premise that it is the US government and not private actors, via the market, that should determine "all the sources of fuel necessary to maintain [the US] economy and its standard of living," and what sources and where should be developed.

The result is an incoherent blog thread that quickly devolves into a food fight - which more than a little surprising and disappointing, given the supposedly libertarian focus of the VC blog.

I'm sorry, but I'd like to get as much of these tyoes of decisions OUT of the hands of government.

Why do we fight over how much oil we produce, but not how many i-phones, laptops or airplanes? Isn't it simply because Jefferson, Seward/McKinley, Eisenhower and Reagan got our government into the business of owning and operating federal lands, which have ever since been the playgrounds of politicians, bureaucrats and special interests/elites of all sorts? Since people with perfectly legitimate preferences regarding how these lands are used cannot express them by means of transactions, they are left instead to battle each other, acrimoniously, for the favor of bureaucrats and polticians.

Clearly, we would all be much better off if we could find paths towards privatization of the federal lands, including the OCS and ANWR.

My suggestion? Require that the government directly pay to the American people a significant chunk of all revenues from these lands, and allow the MMS or other administrative agency to keep a portion of the revenues as well. That would do wonders to increase the interest of the American people and bureacurats in making sure that no sweet deals are given away, that royalties owed are duly paid and that revenues do not simply enable more government pork.

Environmentalists would clearly benefit if such a structure were rolled out generally across FS and BLM lands, and if they were given a share of responsibility in overseeing leases; they have long known that development and environmnetla protection can proceed hand-in-hand, at least for assets and risks that aren't overly socialized.

More on my thoughts on breaking the senseless impasse here.

I'd trade more drilling on federal lands for better oversight and less corruption, and a share of the revenues. And I propose a very similar deal for the atmosphere - rebated carbon taxes, of the kind that have elecited support across the political spectrum, from AEI and ACCF to Rand, Exxon, George Will and Jim Hansen.
8.14.2008 2:07am
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
I'm not really opposed to drilling -- it actually is much safer than in the past. But what I object to is this notion that we just need to drill for oil, and our we can go back to the 1950s (or least the Clinton years) of big cars and cheap energy.

The problem with off-shore drilling as 'the solution':

It won't solve any problem in the short term, will only slightly reduce the problem in the long term.

The companies that can do off shore drilling, especially in remote areas like the arctic are the multi-nations - that money will be leaving the US regardless of where the oil is drilled for the most part, i.e. its putting more US dollars in hands that will send it out of country.

Its a distraction: it won't really do anything in and of itself and superior alternatives are where we should put our efforts and money.

I really hope we do have a 'go to the moon' style initiative with the next administration that would serve as both economic stimulus and segway ourselves into a new energy infrastructure.

The key - hydrogen fueled personal vehicles. Produced locally from any electrical source, available as both internal combustion and fuel cell electric. Safe, requires no new technology (slight production variation on designs for other gaseous fuel vehicles like propane).

Get Detroit retooled, get fuel availability out there (low cost hydrogen storage tank installation loans to fuel stations, portable temporary available for locations, tax breaks for home production units). Don't need to immediately replace all petroleum fuels, just convert the personal vehicles that have no need to be using petroleum based fuels. Potential saving almost 400 million gallons of gasoline a day.

Where do we get the power to generate all the hydrogen? Any alternative source you can name, and then there are the two massive natural gas formations recently discovered in northern Louisiana and Pennsylvania. But it doesn't matter - we could even burn a bit of oil and coal to generate the power because the important thing is getting the basic infrastructure changed over - we can generate the hydrogen by what ever means as need demands. What's important is changing petroleum from an essential part to a progressively more optional part of the equation.

Again, off shore drilling is merely a distraction with no immediate or even long term benefit of consequence. Let's spend money on increasing our non-petroleum power generation. If we need more, lets spend the money locally on non-multinational, leasing natural gas leasing rights from citizens, not governments, letting smaller in-country production companies. Spend some bucks on getting hydrogen vehicles available affordably and the fuel availability options necessary that would make adoption practical. All will stimulate the economy with home grown businesses.

They are trying to push the offshore commitment now to get the genie out of the bottle while the bush administration lasts. We can always start drilling, we can always hold it as an option. This frantic drum beating is pure manipulation and I'm not falling for it, why would anyone?
8.14.2008 2:17am
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Just curious -- how much did your gummit spend on building new roads or expanding existing ones in the last 10 years? How much did they subsidize new developments that are solely dependent upon car transportation? How many tax and other incentives were spent on such projects?'

In my county? Zero.

We motorists pay for roads through the gasoline tax, and developers are required to put in whatever infrastructure is required to reach their suburban projects.

I don't feel like subsidizing your trolleys, thanks. I'll oay as I go.
8.14.2008 2:49am
Public_Defender (mail):

We motorists pay for roads through the gasoline tax, and developers are required to put in whatever infrastructure is required to reach their suburban projects.


Gas taxes offset some of the costs of freeways and highways, but not local streets, which are typically funded through general revenue funds. And once developments are in place, it falls back local governments to maintain the roads with, you guessed it, general revenue.
8.14.2008 8:18am
Smokey:
Harry Eager understands.

And I'd add to his post the fact that ten years ago, the same enviro-Luddites were saying: "But it will take ten years to get the oil into gas tanks!" So ride your bicycle and fatten OPEC wallets, eh?

If we used the really massive oil reserves within U.S. jurisdiction, we could replace the majority of imported oil with energy that pays Americans through their IRA, 401-K and mutual fund holdings, instead of sending our dollars to the Middle East.

Only Congress -- a wholly-owned subsidiary of the enviro lobby -- stands in the way of U.S. energy independence.
8.14.2008 9:23am
Oren:

Only Congress -- a wholly-owned subsidiary of the enviro lobby -- stands in the way of U.S. energy independence.

Funny that citizens that support environmental protection should vote for Congressmen that do as well.
8.14.2008 10:01am
Dan Weber (www):
Its a distraction: it won't really do anything in and of itself and superior alternatives are where we should put our efforts and money.


It's not your money, or your effort. Other people are independent agents. You don't own them or their labor.
8.14.2008 10:26am
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
It's not your money, or your effort. Other people are independent agents. You don't own them or their labor.

Of course its not, that's why I used the word 'we' rather than 'I', and said 'our' instead of 'mine' and 'should' instead of 'will'.
8.14.2008 12:52pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
My county has a gasoline tax -- higher than most places -- that pays for local street work. YMMV.
8.14.2008 3:17pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"The companies that can do off shore drilling, especially in remote areas like the arctic are the multi-nations - that money will be leaving the US regardless of where the oil is drilled for the most part, i.e. its putting more US dollars in hands that will send it out of country."

If a US company can get its oil in the US, it will make a much larger profit than if it buys on the open market from foreign state oil companies.

Under your logic, no company would ever drill the first well in the US; they would send that investment out of the country.

BP America owns about half of Prudhoe Bay. BP invested its own money in the US, pays US workers, buys US supplies and equipment, pays US taxes, and pays US royalties. And it continues to invest in development in the US. Under your scenario none of this would occur because US dollars put in BP hands would be sent out of the country.

On the other hand, the entire price of foreign oil goes out of the US. All of it. To Mexico, Canada, Venezuela, and Saudi.
8.14.2008 7:22pm
Texas Jack (mail):
Fun discussion, but much BS. Early on, somebody said something about US reserves only being good for about 4 months of world usage. True, if everybody else stops producing as soon as our oil comes on line. Someone else trotted out the idea that if we search offshore, we might find less than we thought. Thing is, we know about x million bbls in area A. Any we find in other areas will be in addition to what we already know about (y million bbls in area B) so that PROVEN RESERVES will then be x plus y. Are any of you aware that Brazil has wells in the Carribbian sea? We should be pumping that oil.
All of you are concentrating on energy generation and fuel for automobiles. Look at that keyboard in front of you. Plastic. Know what's used to make plastic? That's right, OIL. If some car manufacturer, today, introduced a plug-in car that went 300 miles on a charge and recharged in a couple of hours, and some other company announced a solar material for pennies per square foot with a 40% efficiency, demand for oil would not drop more than 5 or 6% per year. We are that deep into an oil-based lifestyle. Some of it would be people like me, who drive more for fun than any other reason. Some would be people who could not afford to buy one of those new cars. Some would be those hundreds of other uses for petroleum (did you know some medicines are made from oil?) for which nobody has found a better way.
I support building neuclear power plants. I support wind farms, and hydroelectricity. I am entirely in favor of development work on hydrogen power, and solar power, and thermal power. I want bunches of people to be working on ways to clean up coal. I also want us to drill here, drill now, for American oil. I'm tired of my money going to buy ammo to be shot at my family. I don't want to support some oil shiek who hates me, my country, and my religion.
Even if we start now, it will be 20 to 30 years before our need for pumped-from-the-ground oil drops by half, and twice that long to get down to one quarter. If we don't start producing our own oil, by that time we will no longer own our land or our cities; the oil producing countries will have bought them from under us.
8.14.2008 9:26pm
Smokey:
Oren:
Funny that citizens that support environmental protection should vote for Congressmen that do as well.
Oren, I'll try to be gentle. The plain fact is that political gerrymandering has put this country in the position of politicians selecting their voters, rather than the voters selecting their politicians. It's a systemic problem. The only competition for a Congressional seat is during the primary. If that Congressional district is gerrymandered to be either Democrat or Republican,
the winner of that Party's primary gets the seat in Congress.

Fact of the matter is, if U.S. voters could actually select their politicians, instead of vice-versa, this country would be close to energy independence, and the cost of gasoline would be a lot lower than it is with the current self-serving gang.

As it is, we have what's called a democracy, but in fact the pols have learned to game the system at the expense of the citizens.
8.14.2008 10:21pm
TokyoTom (mail):
Smokey, I share much of your view, but it's an overstatement, as clearly a bunch of seats went to the Dems in the 2006 mid-terms.

There's way too much gerrymandering and each party tries to lock itself into position as much as possible, the better to control the flow of spoils to special interests. The result is that citizen's choices are extremely limited.

But what "enviro lobby" is in control of the Congress? The Bob Dole lobby that gave us ethanol? The one that approved Kyoto a decade ago and approved some climate bill over the past term?
8.15.2008 1:28am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Gas taxes offset some ofpay for all of the costs of freeways and highways,and also offset some of the costs of mass transit
FIFY.
8.15.2008 4:10am
Oren:

Fact of the matter is, if U.S. voters could actually select their politicians, instead of vice-versa, this country would be close to energy independence, and the cost of gasoline would be a lot lower than it is with the current self-serving gang.

Labeling counter-factual scenarios as "fact" is an interesting philosophical statement. Please tell me more about your conception of modal epistemology so that I too, can opine about the "facts" of unrealized scenarios.
8.15.2008 10:49am
Smokey:
Oren:

If you can't see the problem of gerrymandering, then you're beyond help.

Sorry.
8.16.2008 1:10am