Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Drill, Baby, Drill . . . Still

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The gulf oil gusher is a disaster of great proportions. We’ve all seen the pictures of petroleum-soaked birds and dead fish, and the area’s economy is on life support. The mishap truly is a tragedy for all, from Gulf residents to English pensioners to marine wildlife to, yes, BP itself. As bad as this is, however, there’s a way to make the situation worse: by compounding it with another tragedy, one both foreseeable and preventable.

Following the Emanualesque motto “Never let a good crisis go to waste,” some would use the Deepwater Horizon accident to push an anti-oil agenda. And given people’s tendency toward emotional reactions, millions of others are willing to support them. It’s much as how there was a hue and cry for gun control after the Columbine and L.I.R.R. massacres. Passion may not govern wisely, as old Mr. Franklin warned, but she sure does govern.

Of course, on occasion, a tragedy does bring to light rarely considered facts that warrant policy change. But is this the case with the gulf oil tragedy? Actually, it is. The necessary change is one we can believe in, one summed up in four words: Drill, baby, drill . . . still.

Yet lips that once so passionately exclaimed “Drill, baby, drill” have been stilled. The political momentum has shifted to the irrational philosophy stating, “Kill, baby, kill . . . the economy.”

This was epitomized by the Obama administration’s now overturned moratorium on oil drilling. Obama’s action was completely unwarranted. After all, ocean oil drilling has been practiced for decades the world over, long enough and wide enough so we can know that the Deepwater Horizon explosion was a freak accident. Of course, there should be an investigation into the cause, but a moratorium? That’s like shutting down auto traffic all over New York because there was an accident on the Long Island Expressway.

Now let’s examine some more facts. We should be good shepherds of the Earth, and oil spills never do an ecosystem any good. But is the Gulf disaster the eco-armageddon of Sierra Club nightmares? Well, let’s consider what Cecil Adams wrote on the matter at The Straight Dope:

The basics: First, oil is mostly biodegradable. Some of it evaporates or breaks down with exposure to sunlight, and at least 20 types of marine bacteria plus several types of fungi can degrade what's left. Surprised to learn that bacteria eat oil? Don't be. Although oil spills from tankers and wells make the news, they account for less than 15 percent of the total petroleum entering the world's oceans, while 47 percent comes from natural oil seeps. (The rest largely comes from petroleum use.)

To be fair, Adams goes on to write, “That doesn't mean oil biodegrades easily.” But the bottom line is this:

  • Oil is natural.
  • As we all know, oil and water don’t mix.
  • Just as volcanoes expel pollutants into the atmosphere, natural oil seeps cause oil to be released into the oceans. It’s not something nature only has to contend with because of man (who, mind you, is natural himself).
  • Given time, natural processes will remediate the problem themselves.
  • And, lastly, a little help from man can expedite this process.

Then there are more lessons to learn here still. One is that environmentalists are not our friends. Note that they made deepwater drilling more likely by convincing our leaders to place more easily accessible oil (under dry land and shallow water) off limits. Second, Barack Obama is no friend of the environment. When foreign companies with expertise in oil clean-up offered help in the Gulf, they found their participation banned by a protectionist 1920 measure called the Jones Act. And while Obama could wave the act, he is instead allowing more degradation of the water and death of animals and economic interests. Why? The most obvious and less damning answer is that he’s pandering to unions; the darker one is that he doesn’t care about the Gulf coast’s woes because the region didn’t support his election and/or that he wants to exacerbate the environmental damage to provide impetus for a cap-and-tax scheme.

Whatever the case, it’s a real tragedy that we’re capping our oil production. It’s tragic because, contrary to myth, there is enough oil on our shores to meet all domestic needs. This is the message of former Shell CEO John Hofmeister, who appeared on “Hannity” on Monday, June 21. He said that the Obama administration’s claim that we have only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves but use 20 percent — and thus cannot drill our way to energy independence — is deceptive. This is because the 2 percent figure includes only “proven reserves,” a narrow technical definition. If you include probable reserves, says Hofmeister, “We have more oil in this country than the Middle East . . . . We have more energy than we will ever use . . . .”

Moreover, Hofmeister points out in his piece “Get Over the Oil Spill” that it matters not if we love or hate oil.

We simply need it.

He writes:

Every morning Americans need 20 million barrels of oil to get through the day.

Whether we like or hate oil, its effects and affects, it matters not. Every day of President Obama’s tenure in office will still require 10 thousand gallons per second. Ninety four percent of all daily commerce takes place because diesel and turbine engines deliver the goods. Two hundred and fifty million cars, tens of millions of trucks, thousands of planes and ships use only oil, with perhaps a drop of biofuels.

This, not to mention the multitude of products that, unbeknownst to many of us, are made from oil.

Having said this, the drill-baby-drill mentality isn’t just about oil. It is about pulling out all the stops to achieve energy independence. This means using natural gas and clean-burning coal. It means developing alternative fuels when economically feasible.  It means tapping our nuclear potential — something else nixed by the tunnel-vision environmentalists. After all, if France derives more than 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear plants (and is now the world’s largest exporter of electricity), can’t we do at least as well?

Perhaps the biggest tragedy here — in fact, I’d call it a sin — is that we’re still filling Arab sheiks' coffers because we insist on handicapping ourselves. And this sin can be laid squarely at the feet of the left.

Also remember that we can sing the green song as we descend into Third Worldism, but this won’t stop countries such as Brazil and companies such as Petrobras (in which George Soros is an investor) from drilling wells three times as deep as BP’s. It won’t stop China and India from opening a new coal-fired power plant two or three times every month. It won’t stop the rest of the world from realizing that without energy, your nation sinks just like the Deepwater Horizon rig. But it will stop our children from enjoying the prosperity, security and superpower status we take for granted. And, perhaps, that’s exactly the outcome the fifth column in our midst has in mind.

Selwyn Duke is a columnist and public speaker whose work has been published widely online and in print, on both the local and national levels. He has been featured on the Rush Limbaugh Show, at, in American Conservative magazine, is a contributor to and appears regularly as a guest on the award-winning, nationally-syndicated Michael Savage Show. Visit his Website.

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