Monday, September 15, 2008

We Want to Drill, Why?

When I saw the throngs at the RNC chanting "drill, baby drill", I thought maybe somebody had slipped some acid in my bottled water and I was hallucinating. There was a lot of talk about new domestic drilling, but somehow I'd missed the punchline and I wasn't able to fathom what the motivation was.

I think we all agree on three things about our use of oil:

1. We'd like to end our dependence on the import of foreign oil for geo-political reasons
2. We'd like to end our dependence on oil in order to minimize the effect on the environment of both carbon emissions and the ecological damage that new drilling may cause
3. Petroleum based products have gotten very expensive

So what do people think that new offshore drilling projects will accomplish in the same amount of time that the pursuit of cleaner, more efficient sources of energy won't? All I can imagine is that there is a large group of people who think domestic drilling will decrease the price of gas at the pump. I hope that's not what they think, but here's an article from Time Business and Technology from back in June of this year on the subject:

"On Wednesday morning President George W. Bush urged Congress to overturn a 26-year ban on offshore oil drilling in the U.S. and open a part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to petroleum exploration. Flanked by the secretaries of Energy and the Interior, Bush also proposed streamlining the construction process for new oil refineries, and explained that these moves would 'take pressure off gas prices over time by expanding the amount of American-made oil and gasoline.' Coming a day after Republican presumptive presidential nominee John McCain made a similar appeal to enhance domestic oil exploration, Bush was sending an unsubtle election-year message to the American public: I care about the economic toll of $4-a-gallon gas, and Democrats in Congress, who have opposed such an expansion, don't.

But there's a flaw in that logic: even if tomorrow we opened up every square mile of the outer continental shelf to offshore rigs, even if we drilled the entire state of Alaska and pulled new refineries out of thin air, the impact on gas prices would be minimal and delayed at best. A 2004 study by the government's Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that drilling in ANWR would trim the price of gas by 3.5 cents a gallon by 2027. (If oil prices continue to skyrocket, the savings would be greater, but not by much.) Opening up offshore areas to oil exploration — currently all coastal areas save a section of the Gulf of Mexico are off-limits, thanks to a congressional ban enacted in 1982 and supplemented by an executive order from the first President Bush — might cut the price of gas by 3 to 4 cents a gallon at most, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. And the relief at the pump, such as it is, wouldn't be immediate — it would take several years, at least, for the oil to begin to flow, which is time enough for increased demand from China, India and the rest of the world to outpace those relatively meager savings. 'Right now the price of oil is set on the global market,' says Kevin Lindemer, executive managing director of the energy markets group for the research firm Global Insight. President Bush's move 'would not have an impact.'"Continue reading here.

You can read about John McCain's Energy Plan here and Barack Obama's Energy Plan here.

To drill or not to drill really depends on how committed the country is to conservation and to a transition to renewable energy. Today, 20% of our electricity is generated by nuclear power plants. There are already something like 120 of them in operation in the United States. In the thirty years since the last nuclear power plant was built, there have been a lot of improvements to the technology and to safety. Nuclear power is in widespread use around the world and the technology already exists. Other types of energy are in various stages of development, but by focusing on sustainable forms of energy, we not only reduce our dependence on foreign oil and our dangerous emissions, but we create new jobs and industry.

Can we agree that we need to take action now, and if so, what do you think we should do to address this problem? Is there a point I'm missing about drilling?

* * *

Okay, it's Monday evening and I've let myself become obsessed with the election issues. Tomorrow, I will not Twitter, I will not blog, I will not surf the headlines or conduct any more research. I will not return until I've hit at least 53,000 words on my manuscript.

I hope those of you who are more accustomed to hearing me blather about books and writing and other miscellaneous neuroses will weather this period with me and I hope you're talking about these issues too, whether online or in the privacy of your own homes.

I hope to be back by Thursday with another 2,200 words of gibberish completed. Wish me luck.

Over and out.


Julie Layne said...

So wished. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

The only reasonable and logical approach is to seek new sources of energy.

Larramie said...

No luck needed, Lisa. Just Do It!

pattinase (abbott) said...

I'm so with you. Like so many of the Republican plans, it's not 1952.

Melissa Marsh said...

Here's to a successful word count!

Timothy Hallinan said...

The point of increased domestic drilling is to give the oil companies still more oil to sell to us at inflated prices. This is, after all, the Big Oil Administration (in addition to being the worst presidency in the history of the nation.)

Someone recently proposed an approach to all-renewable energy and zero imported oil, a project that would take about 12-14 years. It was greeted with absolute scorn by the snapping turtles on the right, who pointed out that it would cost (scoff, scoff) three trillion dollars.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that the present estimate of the ultimate cost of the Iraq war? So let me see . . . for 3 trillion we can have a war nobody wants that kills and maims thousands of people and changes nothing, or we can have clean energy, renewable resources, and a cessation of the flow of billions of American dollars to the Arab world where, among other things, it funds jihad.

Gee, give me some time to think about it.

And good luck with the writing. You'll do great.

Steve Malley said...

Yeah, what Tim said! :)

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Crank those words out, Lisa. I'm getting back into the trenches, too.

Günter said...

You might get a kick out of this.

Riss said...

I was talking about this just the other day. There are about four sides to this coin. One that says it's pointless because it will take years for us to see even a slight impact on the market, one that says it's necessary because right now, as sucky as it is, we depend on oil and need it on our market whenever we can get it, a third side that says it's a way to feed the hungry mouths of the oil companies who are already gorged on percentages of our paychecks and finally a fourth side-that I am not entirely sure I 100% agree with but can see the merit of-a fourth side that says offshore drilling is a way to take the immediate panic out of the air and allow the global market some breathing room so we can get something accomplished.

I am just presenting this idea as a potential because in the end I don't agree with offshore drilling. I don't think drilling up Alaska will accomplish anything but more environmental damage, buuuut- I can also concede that keeping the market in this seizure isn't going to do anything for us in the long or short term either because the reality is that right now, in the moment, the market and the people need oil. The other reality is that there isn't the kind of money to be had/for alternative energy that there should be or that there will need to be for future times. That being said, I can see that talking about offshore drilling or using "america's oil resources" (aka Alaska, Texas, etc.) could be a quick salve for our scorched economy.

Ok, before I get hate mail-this being said, this isn't a long term solution. Tim's right-we've all said it, we are funding a war that costs as much as any alternative energy program out there. We are dumping gobs of money into supporting poorly organized governmental movements and having to spend billions more in bailing out big companies that act as economic support columns.

I need to post about this I think...

I dunno-offshore drilling is dangerous and is being considered with minds tainted and tinted by panic, I don't see that any good can come of it and yet I also can't realistically say that turning immediately to alternative fuels, ending the Iraq war and tying everything up nice and neat is going to work either to help us in this moment...which is what everyone is focused on because if we don't get past this moment, there will be no real future to worry about....

Ok...i'll quit hogging the comment box now. I dunno. It's complicated. :D

steve said...

In the summer of 1979 Jimmy Carter gave a major address to the American people. Among other things, he called for an energy policy that relied on conservation and the development of alternative engergy sources. It was derided as the "malaise speech." A little over a year later the American people elected Ronald Reagan, who dismissed conservation and proposed simple solutions, by a landslide.

The McCain-Palin people have found a simple solution to the energy situation. As H.L. Mencken said, "There is always a well-known solution to every human problem--neat, plausible, and wrong." Unfortunately, too many Americans don't understand this. I still have some hope for the innate wisdom of the American people, but it's fading fast.

P.S. A little self-deprecation is healthy, but I have yet to read any gibberish on your blog.

Carleen Brice said...

Go Lisa go!

Günter said...

Something occurred to me earlier today. I wonder how Dennis Lehane feels about whatever small part he played in the "X, baby, X" construction entering the national consciousness.

Lisa said...

Julie, I need to take a lesson from you on the economic use of words.

Charles, That's kind of what I thought, but I needed
a sanity check after watching the RNC. And maybe a frontal lobotomy.

Larramie, Did it! Boy, talk about finding ways to interrupt myself though.

Patti, I wasn't even trying to be a wise ass -- it was one of those moments when I really had to stand back and ask myself if I was losing my mind.

Melissa, Thank you -- your good wishes worked and I went over 53K today :)

Tim, Well definitely get back to us when you've had time to mull it over some more. I appreciate the sanity check and the encouragement. Now if it only made more sense...ah, revisions!

Steve, Yeah, me too!

Riss, A four-sided coin! Hey, thanks for laying out some possible perspectives. I suppose this all falls into the "do something, even if it's wrong" thought process because it's definitely true that we are completely oil dependent right now and if we keep not doing anything, we'll keep being dependent on oil and drilling domestically would allow us to keep not doing anything to change that.

And without any facetiousness at all, I agree that it is complicated and sadly, we're still not doing anything.

Steve, Scott talks about how different things would be now if we'd been able to follow through on the initiatives Jimmy Carter tried to implement. I am losing hope in us.

Carleen, Go YOU, miss novel #2 is done and gone to the publisher!

Gunter, I was thinking about that movie not two hours ago! I don't even think it occurred to me why, but now I know. Good question.

steve said...

My assumption was that "Drill Baby Drill" was modeled on H. Rap Brown's "Burn Baby Burn." The convergence of Brown from the far left and McCain-Palin from the far right is interesting: both support simplistic, but in the end, self-defeating solutions to problems.

steve said...

My assumption was that "Drill Baby Drill" was modeled on H. Rap Brown's "Burn Baby Burn." The convergence of Brown from the far left and McCain-Palin from the far right is interesting: both support simplistic, but in the end, self-defeating solutions to problems.

spacedlaw said...

(dropped by via Quidite.blogspot)

Denis said...

Hi, I have a position in a company named Transocean, inc. It is the largest owner of offshore rigs in the world. offshore rigs are rented to oil drillers. the current cost for these rigs is about $160,000 per day. All rigs owned by the 3 largest companies are totally leased through 2011. They are likely to be re-leased. New rigs take about 5 years lead-time to get into production with a crew. Therefore, tell me how we can do some quick drilling offshore????? Don't you think somebody is stiffing a 5 pound bag?

Riss said...

I think that's the nail on the head Lisa. Not to sound too much like a sleazy business folk hehe but yeah...It's a mess. We need to do something, inaction is worse than miguided action sometimes.

Merelyme said...

It is really hard not to think about politics right now. I think a lot of folk are very short sighted and just don't understand what they are proposing. They need to fuel up their SUVs and hummers into oblivion. bias comes out.

Good luck with your writing!

Vesper said...

Money. That's what drives them all.

I hope you're past your 53000 words. Good luck with the novel writing!

Shauna Roberts said...

Not much left for me to add other than that many Americans nowadays seem very focused on their own pocketbook and welfare and don't concern themselves with what America will be like to live in in 50 or 100 years.

Riss said...

and yes, a four sided coin. It could happen....(c:

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Literary Quote

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.

Virginia Woolf