Offshore oil drilling

Some polls indicate more americans favor lifting Federal restrictions on offshore oil drilling.* A site I visit frequently explains why you shouldn’t drink the Kool-aid: you’re being fed a load of crap.

Climate Progress:

The oil companies already have access to some 34 billion barrels of offshore oil they haven’t even developed yet, but ending the federal moratorium on offshore drilling would probably add only another 8 billion barrels (assuming California still blocks drilling off its coast). Who thinks adding under 100,000 barrels a day in supply sometime after 2020 — some one-thousandth of total supply — would be more than the proverbial drop in the ocean? Remember the Saudis couldn’t stop prices from rising now by announcing that they will add 500,000 barrels of oil a day by the end of this year!

Note: this comes from an analysis of a government report on available, and anticipated domestic reserves of offshore oil. By government, I mean the current government… the one that muzzles the EPA, and runs Federal government agencies as if they’re a branch of the RNC.

If a candidate tells you the answer to high gas prices is more offshore oil drilling, he’s talking out of his ass.

*There are some folks who question the validity of their results, due to the way questions were asked.

I had this post written a week ago, but never got around to posting it. To be fair, I should note that oil prices have come down some in the last week or so. Some folks believe the prices have come down due to lower demand, primarily in the US, due to the slumping economy.

Light it up


From Treehugger:

When Lighting Your Water on Fire Isn’t a Magic Trick

Jessica Ernst lives in the village of Rosebud, Alberta, East of Calgary. EnCana, a big oil & gas company, is operating close to her house. The photo above speaks for itself.

So the big question: is the water from her well just naturally flammable (I suspect it’s not), or has the process of drilling/extracting gas nearby fouled the water?

Read the article. A few of the comments after the article are interesting.


Climate Progress:

Independence Day may be the best day to ask ourselves — what is the greatest, preventable threat to Americans’ life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness (LLPH)…

Between Homeland Security and the Pentagon, we spend billions of dollars every month to try to prevent terrorism…

But unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions are by far the greatest preventable threat to Americans’ LLPH (see “Is 450 ppm politically possible? Part 0: The alternative is humanity’s self-destruction and Part 2: The Solution“). Yet the government spends virtually nothing to fight global warming — certainly no significant amount of new money has been allocated for this major threat (the Clinton Administration tried, but the Gingrich Congress reversed that effort, reducing or zeroing out every program aimed at climate mitigation or even adaptation).

Maybe you heard about a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Global Warming as Mass Neurosis,” and you’re not hip to the threat. If so, here’s a rebuttal.

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Tuna waffle

I wonder if Charlie is feeling a little heat…

The gov’s words, via St Pete Times:

“Only when we are able to do so far enough from Florida’s coast, safe enough for our people, and clean enough for our beaches, should we even consider increasing our oil supply by drilling off Florida’s shore. Let me repeat: far enough, safe enough and clean enough.”

But allow me to pile on a little. Later-day drilling doesn’t sound so clean, not with all the crap they put in the water when they start to drill (before they get the first whiff of crude).

Again, from the St Pete Times (a different article):

Critics like Enid Sisskin of Gulf Coast Environmental Defense, a Pensacola group that has opposed offshore drilling for more than a decade, say they are not as concerned about oil spills as they are about what she calls “the routine, everyday, day-after-day pollution they dump in the water.”

When the rigs first drill into the ocean floor, the crews use fluids called “drilling muds” which include toxic substances including barium, chromium and arsenic. The EPA found that such discharges into the eastern gulf would “introduce significant quantities of contaminants to these relatively pristine waters.”

In 2002, the Mobile Press-Register tested grouper and other fish caught around Alabama’s offshore rigs. They contained so much mercury that they would not be acceptable for sale to the public under federal guidelines. The source: the drilling muds, which left mercury in the sea-bottom in concentrations as high as that found at Superfund sites.

It’s great the oil companies (and their well compensated representatives in government) say offshore drilling worries are “so thirty years ago,” but I don’t even need all my fingers to count back to 2002.

You want that grouper sandwich with or without mercury?

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Oil on my mind – or – A well oiled rant

Sorry for the swearing…

For the moment, let’s set aside the merits of offshore drilling. It seems to me like some “conservatives” (note the strategic use of my buddy, the quotation mark) bat around the words “offshore drilling” like it’s an act of patriotism; a shared sacrifice for a greater good. I think it’s code for building a bunch of oil platforms in Florida’s gulf waters. It’s a nice/neutral/GOP-speak way of saying “I wanna turn the west coast of Florida into a shit-hole, fuck-you very much.” As you can guess, I think I’ve got a lot to lose in this debate. Two Pinellas county beaches consistently appear at (or near) the top of a ranking of all U.S. beaches – including Hawaii. Caledesi Island (just down the road) is this year’s number one. Ft Desoto was number one in 2005. Call me a selfish prick, but I think that’s worth something. Then again, my car isn’t big enough to re-enact the sinking of the Titanic, so my sensibilities don’t mirror those of the Hummer horde.

What I can’t figure is why the director of a Florida tourism organization (not in Orlando) would be in favor of drilling. Tell me friends, how many hotels does an oil rig fill? (figuratively speaking, of course)


Larry White, the executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau on Florida’s Gulf Coast, said the area depends on its pristine beaches but is also affected by rising gas prices. He said 70 percent of the area’s tourists drive all the way to the Bradenton area — many of them from Texas.

“I want to protect my beaches,” he said. “But if we don’t get some relief they’re going to say, ‘I can’t afford to come.’ “

Let me get this straight. A bunch of folks are driving all the way from Texas to see our beaches (even those not within a 4-5 hour drive of the major theme parks). Don’t they know they have beaches in Texas too? Even if gas is relatively cheap, semi-circumnavigating* the Gulf of Mexico is more expensive than a quick trip to the coast.

Oh… I know. Maybe it’s because the black stuff doesn’t seem so golden when it’s mixed with sand and accumulating between your toes.

I’ll bet you’ve been waiting for me to take down those hanging merits. I’ll warn you though: this won’t be a comprehensive review. My time’s in short supply lately, so I’ll only be covering those points with handy, off the shelf rejoinders. Still, you may feel free to consider the sentiments genuine.

Unless you’re a tree-hugger or a hotel owner, you might be thinking oil is WAY greener than tourism – in the only way it matter$. That may be true in the short term, but what happens when the oil runs out? How long are we left with the crap that’s left behind? Maybe you’re among those who see the burning of the world’s oil as America’s manifest destiny, but the price at the pump is ruining your ride’s allure… its mojo. I’d ask you to consider an oft-cited government study which suggests tapping the remaining offshore oil in the U.S. wouldn’t have an impact on domestic oil supply or prices until 2030. Granted, the study arrives at the 2030 date by assuming we wouldn’t start exploring/drilling until the current federal bans expire, in 2012; but either way you slice it (2030 or 2026)… that’s a long time before we’d see any changes in price. Or consider this quote from the report (taken somewhat out of context, but I think still applicable):

Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.

So yeah, let’s get right on that.

I know what you’re thinking: a government study, from this administration? Yeah, I know. Leave it to the Bush boys to pee on the oil parade**. (Does that qualify as sarcasm, irony, the coveted daily double; or am I just being redundant?)

Hell, I don’t know why I care. At the rate we’re going Florida will be underwater anyway.

*I thought it had a nice ring to it, even if it makes little sense and makes me sound like an idiot.

**See above.

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Light tuna in oil


Describing his position as evolving, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said he now supports exploratory drilling for oil and gas off Florida’s coast because “Floridians are suffering…”

The National Petroleum Council estimates the eastern Gulf might hold 36.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 5.2 billion barrels of oil. Others doubt those numbers but say there is no way to know without further exploration.

Environmentalists warn, however, that Florida’s multibillion-dollar tourism industry, its fisheries industries and its soaring coastal real estate market are as much at risk as the environment if drilling anywhere in the Eastern Gulf is allowed.

Federal environmental regulators acknowledge that drilling discharges harmful drilling fluids and cuttings, disturbs delicate marine life and poses a threat to endangered sea turtles.

For those and other reasons, Florida politicians from both parties have considered the endorsement of oil drilling as a ”third rail” of political issues to be avoided. They have worked to keep the drilling ban in force along Florida shores for more than 25 years.

Let’s be clear about something. Everything in Florida comes down to tourism. Our entire system of government depends on sales tax receipts and a few other taxes paid by tourists (on hotels, etc). There’s no income tax. Taxes on wealth, like estate and intangibles taxes, have been slashed by our Republican legislature. There are a few miscellaneous fees and taxes, but we live and die by the sales tax. Guess what happens to those sales taxes our tourist friends pay when oil rigs pop up on the horizon, and trace amounts of the stuff they bring up start coating our beaches?

You may argue that it’s in the nation’s best interest for us to fall on our sword, but lets not mince words – that sword’s going to run us through. Others might argue that it’s well past the time we start looking to energy alternatives.

Charlie must not be interested in running for re-election, or for VP either. A lot of us Floridians suffer from a little too much sun, and we can appear to be a bit dim witted at times (re: 2000). But a lot of us still have enough wits about us to recognize what our meal ticket is, and it ain’t natural gas. We may be suffering at the pump (and from the resulting inflation) like everyone else, but it’s nothing like the suffering we’ll face if the backbone of our economy breaks. Just ask the folks in the rust belt what it’s like when your main industry pulls up stakes.

So now I have to wonder, what good does Charlie do McCain if he can’t bring Florida with him? I used to think he was a pretty savvy politician. Now, not so much.


Can you see?

I remember the evening my father told me about pollution. I don’t remember how old I was, but I know it was sometime after we moved to Florida (I must have been at least eight). I remember being out in the back yard with the telescope, my dad explaining why it wasn’t the best place for stargazing. That night, I remember learning about leaded gasoline, catalytic converters, and smog. I remember scoffing at the idea of light pollution, and silently conceeding the point later, out on the causeway (a few miles away from the city lights). Much later, I remember being awestruck by the view of the night sky my first time camping.

All of this came to me as I took the trash down to the curb last night. I stopped on my way back inside and spent ten minutes straining my eyes to count all the visible stars. I didn’t get past thirty, and it was depressing. I could only see a quarter of the sky from where I was standing (due to the house and the trees), but the number should have been MUCH higher. Even so, it wasn’t different from any other night, so why did it bother me last night? I don’t know about your mind, but mine makes an occasional association that throws me off. Yeah, the sky looked just like it does every night: a blackboard dotted by partially erased chalk; but last night it occurred me that this blackboard wasn’t black, it was the color of an electric stove element just starting to heat up.

Not seeing stars at night is a small problem. If that was the only consequence of man’s presence I might not be writing this post. The sky’s appearance wouldn’t give me pause. I might have found the night sky peaceful and gone about my business, a little more relaxed. Instead my mind made a quirky, throw-away association, and I felt a little worried… a little pessimistic.

Am I making any sense? Should I see my doctor about changing my meds?

Right around the time my dad talked to me about polution, he talked to me about anxiety (another time, a different context). He probably didn’t use the word anxiety. We probably talked about being worried, but anxiety works too. I remember him suggesting that the best way to stop worrying was to do something, anything that might address the problem. If it was a school project I was worrying about, I should start it. If I wasn’t sure where to start, I should pick a spot and jump in – even if it didn’t turn out to be the best place to start later. Sometimes there’s a risk of making the problem worse. But even if it does, sometimes those false starts lead you to a solution… one you might not have thought of if you’d done nothing but sit and contemplate.

That’s why I’m writing right now. You might quit reading long before you get this far. You might be put off, dismiss my concerns, or think I’m being melodramatic. But I feel like doing something, so I am. If you’ve read this far, maybe you would think about a couple questions, or accept a little advice. Are you worried? Can you think of anything to do about it? Even if it’s something small, start. Just don’t let it be the end.


Passing gas

Before I begin, I warn you that the standard disclaimer applies: it’s quite possible I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Wheh! Now that I’m free of that burden (responsibility) I’m ready to rock and roll.

It seems those pesky Democrats are up to no good again, making noise about ending tax breaks to oil companies in order to raise money for… get this… funding their own competition.

It sounds like crazy talk, until you consider the money’s for renewable energy.

What do the oil companies and their government surrogates have to say?

The Bush administration, Republican lawmakers and big oil companies condemned the bill, which they said would raise fuel prices for consumers, discourage oil and gas exploration in the United States and unfairly discriminate against a single industry while other manufacturers continue to enjoy tax breaks.

It makes you want to cry doesn’t it? Life’s just so unfair.

Hey wait a minute. Isn’t their product kind of responsible (at least in part) for the environmental mess we’re in?

And about those taxes… I’m sorry, aren’t global oil prices at record highs? Why is that? Is the price of oil higher this month because it’s costing them so much more money to extract and refine the same amount of oil they did last month? OR, is the price going up because of the increase in worldwide demand?

No wonder they’ve been raking in the dough these last couple years. It seems to me they get to make a LOT more money with what I assume is largely the same production costs. Is it so wrong to ask they to fork over a SMALL percentage of their windfall (which it seems you could argue has little to do with business savvy – and everything to do with luck) to help fund renewable energy, and fix the mess they helped us make? If I’m not mistaken, the definition of profit is money you make after expenses. If the net effect of the proposed tax increase is lower profits (but still greater than zero), they wouldn’t really have to charge consumers more for fuel, would they? They’d still be PROFITING from the sale of oil.

Their Christmas bonus might suffer a little, along with the value of their stock portfolio. I’ll try not to lose any sleep over it.

Supporters of the measure noted that rescinded tax breaks would amount to less than 2 percent of the profits of the five biggest oil companies.

It’s more than possible that I’m missing something here. I really want to understand. Give it another shot… go out and win this one for the Gipper!

“The administration must strongly oppose” the legislation, the Office of Management and Budget said Tuesday, “because the bill would use the tax code to target tax increases on a specific industry in a way that will lead to higher energy costs to U.S. consumers and businesses.” The OMB said that if the bill were sent to the president in its current form, “his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

Nope, that doesn’t do anything for me. (see above)

I kind of like a phrase a blogger I admire used a couple days ago: “I call bullshit.” (I hope he doesn’t mind if I take it out for a spin.)

By the way, I love these little hypothetical arguments I have with myself. I get to rig it any way I want – and I usually get to win! It kind of makes up for all the arguments I lose at home.

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Au naturel

No, this is not a post about nudity (though I’m bound to get a few disappointed googlers after this first sentence).

No, this post touches on my recent efforts to eat and dress better. In addition to trying freshen up our diet with more organically grown veggies, I’ve done a little searching for low impact clothing. A co-worker suggested organic cotton and bamboo.

Bamboo? Are we talking about that same stuff the folks behind us planted in their backyard, and now we can’t get rid of… short of emptying a can of gasoline and striking a match? (I’m guessing the law might have a problem with me setting my lawn on fire.)

Yes we are.

As it turns out, bamboo is treated with some pretty strong stuff to make it suitable for clothing, so I’m not sure it fits my criteria for “low impact.” Still, I was curious.

I gave some nice folks on the internet my credit card number, and in return they sent me three bamboo/cotton mix t-shirts. My wife thinks I’ve gone around the bend on this one, but she’s also the one that said my steamed carrots were too strong.

“Is there too much spice?” (sometimes I add a little allspice.)

“No, the carrot taste is too strong.”

“Wait a minute. You think the carrots are too carroty?”

“Well, when you put it like that it sounds kind of silly.”

You’ll have to forgive my wife, her parents taught her all vegetables came from a can. (You have to give her this though: she lets me post this stuff, so you know she’s a pretty damn good sport.)

Anyway, they finally came in the mail. I’ve discovered that bamboo may not be all it’s cracked up to be as a renewable resource (in some circles anyway), but it makes a wicked comfy t-shirt.