President Bush again calls for oil and gas drilling on pristine protected public land.

Today President Bush again called for drilling in environmentally sensitive, protected public places, supposedly to ease the increasing cost of energy that most Americans face. In my post of June, 17, I examined some of the limiting factors of taking this simplistic knee-jerk approach to a crisis that is multi factorial.

In fact, Dr Alberswerth, senior energy policy advisor for the Wilderness Society, has argued that:

At a time when creative thinking is urgently needed, President Bush’s approach does not provide real solutions or move the country toward a more forward-thinking energy policy,” Alberswerth said. “Today’s high gasoline prices are the result of a host of economic conditions that have little to do with how much drilling is or is not taking place on federal lands. According to economic experts, these conditions include the weak dollar, increased speculation, and dramatically increased consumption in China and India.”

Drilling is not new and a look at recent history shows that in spite of exploration the flow on effect to the consumer has not in fact reduced prices which have spiraled upward regardless. This is indicative of other underlying factors being at play and experts point to the limited effect of any increased drilling will have.

There is a compelling case against increased drilling. Here are just some of the arguments against this proposal:

The administration has allowed the oil and gas industry to lease more than 44 million acres of public land in the Rockies but has developed less than 10 million acres of that land.

Even though the United States has more drilling rigs operating than the rest of the world combined, prices have not dropped. The most recent Baker Hughes rig count shows 1,901 drilling rigs operating in the U.S. (offshore and onshore), and 1,305 in the entire rest of the world.

Since taking office, the Bush administration has issued leases on over 26 million acres of on-shore public lands.

(Source: Wilderness Society)

When we examine the proposal to explore in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the arguments for moving into these pristine areas are even less convincing. Developing any of these leases if commercial quantities were found would take at least 10 years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

As discussed in my post of June, 17, there would be no short term benefits to the consumer here and the damage done and species lost would be for all time. History points to the dangers. The potential for oil spills and their effect on the environment and the communities that live in these areas will be increased. The Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 is still not fully resolved before the courts. There could also be unexpected outcomes like the mud volcano on Java triggered by drilling for gas. (See my post of June 15)

As discussed on my post of June 17, there are strong political reasons for pursuing these arguments for drilling that have no real impact on providing true relief at the pump. It is a convenient sidelining of the real work that needs to be done by the American public and this is about changing their habits and finding new innovative solutions through renewable energy sources. We need to ween ourselves off oil and find more efficient, environmentally friendly solutions. The pain of the energy crisis is being felt world wide and this global problem is being discussed everywhere. A small saving in cents today is not the answer.

The political expediency of this call, when all the data points to the limited benefits and potential dangers of such a move is disturbing.

David Alberwerth offered this comment:

“At a time when creative thinking is urgently needed, President Bush’s approach does not provide real solutions or move the country toward a more forward- thinking energy policy. From day one, his administration promoted a ‘drill everything’ agenda, but the result has been record high energy prices for average Americans, record profits for oil companies, and more degradation of our Western public lands from their reckless development policies.”

Additionally, this call does nothing but fuel the hysteria and cloud the picture. It does nothing to cool the speculation on oil futures that is part of the problem. As I said the other day cool heads are needed not knee-jerk, politically expedient reactions.


Neumayer Channel, Antarctica, is 16 miles (26 km) long and about 1.5 miles (2.4) wide, separating Anvers Island from Wiencke Island and Doumer Island in the Palmer Archipelago.

Neumayer Channel, Antarctica.

Photograph by: Glenn Grant, National Science Foundation. Date Taken: March 2006

~ by abstraktbiblos on Thursday, 19 June, 2008.

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