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KQµårk 死神 On March - 31 - 2010

President Obama has opened up oil drilling 50 miles off the coast on much of the Eastern seaboard and 125 miles off the coast of Eastern Gulf of Mexico. While he shut down most drilling in Southern Alaska and has added drilling North of Alaska.

Open ocean drilling is not my first choice but the president faces a huge dilemma in how to finance new alternative energy spending. He’s already increased spending for renewable energy research with the stimulus and in the budget but that is mostly deficit spending. Thanks to the sudden interest of the left and right to have things paid for Obama has to come up with revenue for any new spending.

President Obama wanted that revenue to come from cap and trade but now that the right and left have demonized cap and trade even though it’s a progressive idea his hands are tied. The right always hated cap and trade by calling it a tax and now the left has demonized it because investors are part of the process. Not to mention that average Americans have cooled on worrying about climate change somewhat because with our short attention span society a couple of cooler years means the threat of climate change is not real to many Americans.

So what is a president to do when he needs revenue to develop alternate energy to make us energy independent?

Being the ultimate pragmatist he is Obama chose getting revenue through new open ocean oil drilling leases and possibly oil royalties. It’s not the best choice and would not be my choice but if the president wants to invest in renewable energy for energy independence and not increase the deficit it’s the only viable choice. My choice for the record would be just to deficit spend because it will pay off in the long run.

We also have to realize how we got here because we are way behind in alternate energy research because we’ve had no real energy policy since President Carter tried to implement one. We fooled ourselves with cheap fossil fuels and need decades of research and implementation to ween ourselves off of them. I know many progressive including many folks here just want to turn the page and go to alternative energies now without any transition period. The problem is the technology is simply not there yet and will not be there for decades.

Also for all the liars out there like HuffPo the president’s position on offshore drilling evolved during the election. I never had any delusions that Obama was not a politician. He modified his opinion on offshore drilling because it was popular but he also never forgets his grand strategy that included three basic pillars of his vision including; healthcare reform, energy independence and education reform.

Obama says would consider limited offshore drilling (from August 1st, 2008)

Obama dropped his blanket opposition to any expansion of offshore drilling and signaled support for a bipartisan compromise in Congress aimed at breaking a deadlock on energy that includes limited drilling.

“My interest is in making sure we’ve got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices,” Obama said in an interview with The Palm Beach Post during a tour of Florida.

“If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage — I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done,” Obama told the newspaper.

Written by KQµårk 死神

My PlanetPOV contact is [email protected] Proud Dem whose favorite hobby is cat herding. The GOP is not a political party, it's a personality disorder. Cancer, Heart Failure and Bush Survivor.

28 Responses so far.

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  1. Khirad says:

    Woo-Woos were telling me this was obvious. We were preparing for the coming war on Iran…

    The others were Obama vashing and HP was complicit by showing a video without full context.

    Obama in August did in fact say he was open to this, as in the SOTU. To be against it is one thing, but to suddenly feel betrayed?

    I’m wait and see on the political strategy. Any other strategic value -- reserve, economic -- seems not worth it to me.

    It’s just another tourniquet. Like one last hit, man. No really, this is the last one, I swear…

    • KQ says:

      One columnist wrote he said he thought Obama only said this to get elected and feels betrayed now. Huh so he would rather see someone lie to get elected. There is allot of misconceptions during the campaign and this is another. He never attacked McCain or even Palin for saying “drill, baby, drill” that was a concoction of progressive media. Obama knows offshore drilling is not the answer. It’s just part of a bigger strategy.

      As far as Iran goes. Bombing Iran is a non starter. Obama is trying to get the UN to do tougher sanctions. Yeah it’s a bit of saber rattling but he’s doing it to prevent Israel from bombing Iran.

      • Khirad says:

        Totally, there has been fuzzy memory of the campaign. I myself have to look some stuff from time to time. The Afghanistan part was fairly clear to me though. I have no idea where some people were for the campaign on that.

        With the woo-woo, I think they were trying to connect the saber rattling (which you are correct, is what this is -- connected to sanctions) with this with their usual ‘logic’. They never quite spelled it out but it was a definite meme (I wish there were a meme tracker tool). When looking at how much oil this would produce, and when I couldn’t stop myself from laughing. As if it would be anytime soon. As if it would offset the consequences to the oil markets of an attack, or Iran cutting off the Straight of Hormuz.

        I hate to bring it up and make all things Iran. It tends to be a habit of another sort, though -- I end up getting in fights when I least expected it. I found the connection absurd on its face, unless you know something I don’t.

  2. escribacat says:

    You make a really strong case, KQ. I’m willing to wait and see how this all plays out before I start thinking it’s all wrong. I’m reasonably ignorant on the details of offshore drilling and tend to just not like it because I envision trillions of gallons of oil spilling into the sea. Of course, that’s not an accurate picture of it.

    I did do a contract job for a few months for a company that made equipment for doing seismic readings. It involved placing a bunch of little recording devices across the landscape, then setting off explosions or loud noises (they had a big machine that banged a giant pipe into the ground) and then recording the sound waves as they moved through the ground. The sound waves looked different if there was oil or pockets where there might be oil. I honestly can’t figure out how they do this in the ocean. That is, how do they figure out where to drill?

  3. AdLib says:

    First, it came out during the campaign that oil companies already have many leases which they have yet to explore. This was a red herring used by McCain/Palin, the oil companies are not empty handed in places to drill.

    As for this helping our dependence on oil, absolutely not. This will have virtually no impact. Even Bush’s Admin admitted that all the drilling they and McCain/Palin were proposing would only add about 1% in production. We import over 60% of the oil we use.

    AND…after the decades it will take for such leases to be at full production, isn’t it safe to say that our oil appetite will have grown by more than 1%?

    This is a political maneuver and a smart one but it will have no substantive impact on domestic oil production.

    • KQ says:

      No and it will have minimal affect on the environment as well. Very few surveys will even be conducted on the Atlantic seaboard because the testing is too expensive and they know not much oil is there anyway. Some this amounts to expanded drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. I doubt much drilling will be done in the Arctic Ocean either. In the end it there will be very little impact at all.

  4. Kalima says:

    Thank you K. I knew that if someone would write about this issue, it would be you.

    I was emailing with my friend in NC last night and the first thing he wrote after the usual greeting was about this drilling. He was annoyed that the President was trying to placate the Repubs and that it would affect the votes he gets on this or even getting no votes at all.

    After a long back and forth where I told him that I couldn’t see appeasement in this decision but an urgent need considering the cost and time it would take for the necessary research and planning for alternative energy, we called it a night. I had a headache.

    Like you I believe it not to be the best choice, but the only choice at this moment. I hear the distant rumblings of thunder as the criticism mounts and the inevitable moans begin again and think, “Be damned if you do and be damned if you don’t.”

    Thank you for the article.

    • KQ says:

      Well you know it’s not about placating Repubs, they will never be placated and drilling alone will not make us energy independent. It’s an all of the above strategy on energy which was never a bad idea in moderation. Energy strategy is all about what we will be doing decades from now for energy not what we are doing now.

      I also guarantee you that oil companies will end up drilling very little on the East Coast. There is just not that much oil there to get oil companies to invest in expensive platforms. Part of this is calling their bluff as well.

      I find some people on the left very hypocritical on energy issues. They want the energy to maintain their standards of living and have all their gadgets but they only want green energy which is beyond impractical. It’s just not feasible at this time. So if you are so much against offshore drilling and using fossil fuels. Turn off your computers and all your other electrical luxuries because they are the reason that for now we have to burn fossil fuels.

      • Kalima says:

        Your last paragraph sums it up, it’s the same over here. We are asked to conserve energy every summer, to set the thermostat at 28C, that’s hot when it’s 34C outside, so I keep it at 24C.

        Go out into the heart of the city and there are so many clusters of high rise buildings with every A/C on every floor at full blast, every floor lit up like a Christmas tree and the annoying neon signs like millions of fireflies lighting up the skyline. Save energy they plead, doesn’t that include all of us I ask?

        • KQ says:

          Even though it’s too late the US should have followed the French model for energy independence, but no we followed the Chinese model and built zillions of coal power plants.

          • Kalima says:

            Sort of defeats the whole point doesn’t it, but it sure has made quite a few people rich at your expense.

            Germany was either first or one of the first to start recycling in Europe. It is so strict that even bottles are separated by their colour. When I think about the mishmash of trash that used to be thrown out over here with regular trash, I hope that Japan’s efforts is not just too little too late.

            • KQ says:

              The products I’m most proud of that I developed in my career are used in recycling paper. We recycle more than you may think in the US but not nearly enough.

  5. KQ says:

    Like I noticed many times of late Andrew Sullivan get’s it on this issue.

    I don’t recall Obama ever railing against this in the campaign, although I might be wrong. I see it not as a mid-term tactic but, once again, as a strategic move to show he is open to ideas from his opponents, while his opponents are rigidly and ideologically opposed to anything he might suggest. It slowly seeps in -- among Independents and even among many traditional Republicans -- that he is the reasonable guy in the room.

    Goodbye to all that, remember? And you do it gradually, undramatically, constantly. Meep, meep.

  6. Chernynkaya says:

    Thank you, KQ for the SANITY! Yes, like you, I am not thrilled at all by offshore drilling. But I think this is Obama’s anly feasible way to obtain passage of Cap and trade and other environmental legislation. It worked for HIR and seems to be the only way in this political environment-- and environment as polluted (with regressives) as our skies.

    When oil is brought up from beneath the ocean floor, other things are, too. Chemicals and toxic substances such as mercury and lead can be discharged back into the ocean.

    The water pumped up along with the oil may contain benzene, arsenic and other pollutants. Even the exploration that precedes drilling, which depends on seismic air guns, can harm sea mammals.


    What is the role of coastal areas for the US and world economy?

    Although coastal areas comprise one-fifth of the land area of the contiguous 48 states, they account for more than a half of the nation’s population and housing supply. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that America’s coastal waters support 28.3 million jobs and generate $54 billion in goods and services every year. Over 180 million Americans visit US coasts every year. The commercial fish and shellfish industry contributes $45 billion to the economy every year, and recreational fishing contributes $30 billion.

    Within thirty years a billion more people will be living along the coasts than are alive today.

    What are the most polluted ocean areas detected from space?
    Widespread manmade pollution of the sea that can be detected by current spaceborne systems is concentrated in the Middle East, particularly in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

    How much oil enters the ocean?

    The amount of petroleum products ending up in the ocean is estimated at 0.25% of world oil production: about 6 million tons per year.

    How much oil enters the oceans with oil spills?

    Oil spills account for only about five percent of the oil entering the oceans. The Coast Guard estimates that for United States waters sewage treatment plants discharge twice as much oil each year as tanker spills.



    I am afraid that the only way to make any progress at all on this and all other legislation is to be incremental and to at least fend off the most obvious right wing attacks in advance.

    • KQ says:

      Actually I think cap and trade is dead because now the right and left hate it. That’s one reason why the white house is looking for additional revenue streams for an energy bill.

      The only climate change strategy left now is the EPA mandating new clean air targets to reduce emissions including CO2 which the EPA under Obama has listed as a dangerous emission for the first time and find some way to fund alternative energy research and implementation.

    • KQ says:

      I just look at offshore drilling as being the same safety risk as transporting billions of barrels of oil via super tankers. Shipping oil is safer per barrel but many more barrels are shipped and are wide open to terror attacks in very hostile waters.

      There simply are no easy solutions because of the horrible decisions this country made in the past.

  7. nellie says:

    A very reasonable argument, K.

    As I posted on TO/OT, I’m not going to get excised over this because there are too many political and practical reasons for this decision. Financing our green infrastructure is one of the better reasons. Also, increasing energy independence — which is also the reason for nuclear and clean coal (which I despise) — is another rationale I can live with, even though we probably won’t get a lot of oil from these leases. The political strategy is quintessential Obama.

    I can’t blame this president for starting a process that should have started 30 years ago in the best way he can, given the current circumstances. And, for the record, I felt the same way about the GOP “Drill baby drill” campaign, except, of course, for ANWR. We can’t convert overnight to a green economy. I’m looking at this as one of the steps, stinky though it may be, to get there.

    • KQ says:

      Our current methods for generating energy are terrible painful to Gaia. Like a doctor dealing with a patient with a disease that is degenerative until cured the fastest treatment possible is the best solution even if the side effects are terrible.

      That’s what we are left with now because we’ve had no real energy policy ever. Actually I should say our energy policy has been to artificially minimize the cost of energy.

  8. javaz says:

    Good article, KQ, and not sure what it means or what Obama’s strategy is, but getting Republicans to work with him on anything will never happen, especially after passing HCR, imho.

    You could be correct that the plan is for a comprehensive energy policy with 60 votes in the Senate.

    Personally, I have no problem with drilling.

    I agree with you in that Obama is a pragmatist and most likely is going after revenue for the drilling leases and oil royalties, but there are loopholes that need closing so that the Oil Companies cannot get around paying the leases!

  9. KQ says:

    Oh and again many progressives are misreading this again. This is not an attempt at bipartisanship. It’s an attempt to get conservadems on board with a comprehensive energy policy and get exactly 60 votes in the Senate just like it was after August with HCR.

    • nellie says:

      You know, K, I think Obama’s past attempts at bipartisanship might not really have been attempts at bipartisanship. I think he did what he needed to do to get health care passed with the highest public approval rating possible.

      • KQ says:

        His attempts at bipartisanship have been double edged. First he does see the partisan divide as a clear and present danger to facing our problems. Second it’s like money in the bank for the future to win the independents in this country when and if the economy turns around.

        BTW I smell the BS on the whole offshore drilling thing is directly part of energy independence. Unless it’s parlayed into a comprehensive energy policy it doesn’t make us energy independent one iota. But I’m sure Obama knows that too and is playing politics in this case.

        • SanityNow says:

          exactly. no long term teeth to this and he should have no doubts whatsoever at this point that he will get any Republican support for anything he proposes between now and the mid terms. this policy proposal is a political ploy, imho. He is a pretty smart man.

    • SanityNow says:

      I hope that is a real possibility, but I just think that the Republicans have thoroughly trapped themselves with their own rhetoric too much to agree with this president on anything until after November (when that strategy will have proven itself to not have worked like they hoped it would.)

      • KQ says:

        If they try to block an energy policy that they would have agreed to in the past they just look more and more like the hypocrites they are.

        • SanityNow says:

          …which is what I think the real strategy of the Obama admin exactly is: to further box in the Republicans and give them enough rope to finish the job before November.

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