Azara Blog: Bush proposes yet again that offshore drilling be allowed

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Date published: 2008/06/18

The BBC says:

President George W Bush has called on Congress to end a 27-year ban on drilling for oil in US coastal waters, to reduce dependence on imports.

Mr Bush said existing restrictions on offshore drilling were "outdated and counter-productive".
...
Kassie Siegel, climate programme director at the California-based Center for Biological Diversity, condemned the Bush offshore initiative.

"This is the culmination of the failed Bush-Cheney energy policy of the last eight years," she told the BBC News website.

"It would do absolutely nothing for petrol prices because it would take at least a decade to produce any oil and even if the oil did flow, there would be the greenhouse gases from the additional fossil fuel development."

She points out that the US government recently calculated there was a 33-51% chance of a major spill in the lifetime of an offshore oil and gas lease in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska.

Such a spill, defined as a release of 1,000 barrels or more from a platform or pipeline, could affect bowhead whales, polar bears and other wildlife.

However, the government's environmental impact statement concluded that "an area affected by such a spill relative to the size of the Chukchi Sea decreases the likelihood that the resources would be widely contacted by the spill".

Bush has obviously never seen a barrel of oil he did not like. So he's not exactly unbiased in the matter, and, like in most other things, one is safest just to ignore anything he proposes. The main fault with this proposal is that it just considers supply in isolation. Bush is incapable of producing a sensible energy policy which also considers energy efficiency (the one globally appealing way to reduce demand) and also a carbon tax.

On the other hand, the remarks of Siegel are also rather inane. Arguing that this shouldn't happen because the impact is a decade off is rather silly, since the oil situation is likely to get worse in time, not better, and since she is one of many who have been fighting to prevent this happening the last two decades, so is responsible for the delay. And although it will add to the global amount of carbon emissions due to oil, it might (temporarily) divert even worse carbon emissions due to (say) coal. And it will slightly (but not substantively) reduce American dependence on foreign oil. And Siegel is implicitly arguing that oil spills in the US are bad, but oil spills somewhere else are acceptable. After all, the oil is coming from somewhere. But it is common for rich countries to export pollution to other countries.

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