So, apparently President Bush and Senator McCain are both listening to reason on offshore drilling. The political deal with the devil that Bush made to push drilling in Alaska, where it’s politically popular, and not off the shores of the lower 48, where local politicians opposed drilling in their backyard, may turn out to be the biggest mistake of his Presidency. Unfortunately at the time, environmental extremists owned the ANWR issue because they made it about greedy oil companies and greedy Alaskans trying to hurt the lichens. You can’t be a much more defenseless underdog than a lichen. With oil prices at $1 a gallon, it was hard to sell the American people that drilling mattered much and, with little to focus public concern, it was easy for the elites to push the idea that preventing US drilling in the Arctic was the best way to protect the Arctic environment.
With offshore drilling, especially now with gas prices over $4/gallon nationally, it’s the snobbish, elitist, Not-in-my-backyard Floridians and Californians against the rest of the country. Those who stand in the way of offshore drilling in the name are hurting the economy, hurting our national security, hurting the poor, hurting the working class and, oh by the way, hurting the environment all in the name of not spoiling their view with an oil platform.
As I noted before, there’s no evidence I’m aware of that shows an oil spill is more likely from a tanker carrying oil from a nearby offshore drilling platform compared to one delivering oil from Saudi Arabia. The Gulf platforms all rode out the worst that Katrina, Rita and every other hurricane of the last 5 years has thrown at them with no spills. A 3 million barrel supertanker crossing the ocean has a lot more opportunity to produce a spill and, if it happens, a much bigger one.
But there’s more to it than just the potential for a mid-ocean oil spill by a 3 million barrel supertanker coming from the Mideast. For all the noise environmentalists make, the US has one of the strictest environmental protection regimes in the world. Not drilling here means buying oil from countries with far worse environmental records.
We can let oil companies drill here, where they’ll be expected to keep it clean and be proactive to prevent problems, or we can import more oil from Nigeria, which “has one of the worst environmental records in the world. In recent years, the country has seen the execution of a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, widespread social and environmental problems stemming from oil operations in the Niger River delta, and the world’s highest deforestation rate.”
We can have a few more oil rigs breaking the clean blue line of the Hollywood horizon or we can help finance the Russian exploration of the Arctic, leaving the Arctic Ocean to the devices of the country that “succeeded in wiping from the map almost an entire sea – the Aral, now largely a toxic desert – and turning the world’s deepest freshwater lake, Baikal, into a borscht of cadmium and mercury deposits.” How do you think those Alaskan lichens will fare if the Russians repeat their recent history?
And, by the way, aren’t our neighbors to the North a socialist paradise that can do no wrong? Yet, they also seem to be expanding oil production as fast as humanly possible – and selling it to us. If oil production is so bad for the environment, why are the sainted Canadians doing it and why isn’t Barack Obama demanding they stop?
Not drilling offshore is bad for the economy. It’s bad for every class – the working class, the poor and, though they may not feel the pain as much, the rich. It’s bad for our national security, leaving us dependent on brutal dictators, theocrats and genocidal maniacs. Higher oil prices mean more money in the coffers of al Qaeda and in that battle, if you’re against offshore drilling, you’re against US.
But a less recognized fact is that NOT drilling offshore is bad for the environment. “Environmentalists” who prefer Americans to use oil produced in areas with less protection for the environment are showing that their concern really is all about the view.