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What an Outraged Barbara Boxer Thinks

For reasons unknown to me, I am on an e-mail distribution list from Senator Barbara Boxer. Here’s what she had to say about Bush’s lifting of the federal ban on offshore drilling. (No comments from me just yet, as I have an essay in draft).

Dear Robert,

George W. Bush wants to give the oil companies a huge gift that threatens our environment — while not doing a single thing to lower gas prices. Urge my colleagues in Congress not to lift the Congressional moratorium on offshore drilling.

I’ve been working with many of you to protect our coasts for decades. Now, after today’s shocking news from the White House, I’m outraged. It’s time to take our fight to the next level.

Today, running contrary to every shred of common sense, President Bush lifted the presidential moratorium on drilling for oil off our precious coastline — a moratorium his own father put in place. And now he wants Congress to lift our own moratorium as well.

It’s unbelievable. In the final months of his failed presidency, George Bush wants to give the oil companies a huge gift that threatens our coasts, our economy, and our jobs — while not doing one single thing to lower gas prices.

Tell my colleagues in Congress to stand firm: Sign my petition to the House and Senate leadership, urging them not to lift the Congressional moratorium on offshore drilling!

There is absolutely no reason to lift the offshore drilling moratorium — not one. It’s just the latest example of President Bush trying to shift the blame for the 300% increase in gas prices from himself to the Congress.

You would expect such a policy to emanate from the CEO of an oil company — not from the President of the United States.

After all, oil and gas companies already hold leases to 68 million acres of federal land, where they haven’t yet even begun to produce oil. The oil companies have been derelict in drilling on the land they already have access to — and now they just want more leases to add as assets to their corporate balance sheets.

Why do we need to open our sensitive offshore areas to drilling when the oil companies don’t drill on the land they already have — and when the impact of any new drilling won’t have any effect on gas prices, while putting our coastal environment at risk? It’s ridiculous — and President Bush should be ashamed for even proposing it.

The President didn’t follow his father’s policy on Iraq and now he’s not following his father’s policy on offshore oil drilling. It’s time for Congress to stand firm.
It’s time to protect our thriving coastal economy, worth $70 billion and almost two million jobs.

It’s time for real solutions on gas prices, not political posturing and last-minute gifts for President Bush’s big oil buddies.

Congress should be going after speculators, urging oil and gas companies to drill on the leases they already have, and releasing some oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — not lifting the offshore drilling moratorium.

OK, just one comment. I am just so thankful Senator Boxer is above political posturing, and is in favoring of real solutions like releasing oil from the SPR.

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July 14, 2008 - Posted by | Barbara Boxer, energy policy, politics

27 Comments

  1. and to think the tax paying public foots the bill for the staff work and other misc needed for this. you’d think at a minimum the recipient would receive a reprint of “Bab’s box of ready solutions” for OIL CHANGES.

    it still amazes me that the electorate despises congress[total], but admires their respective member. what happened to the proposition–“the whole is equal to the sum of parts”?

    will this “BOXER’S REBELLION” end same as the the one years back in China.

    signed: Gerrymandering

    ps–looking forward to your post on this.

    fran

    Comment by Anonymous | July 15, 2008

  2. Sad reality of a two party system, eh? What do you do when both suck? Right now, Boxer, like many Dems, are just trying to ride the anti-Bush wave, without making any proposals that actually involve addressing the issues. Much more fun just to blame those evil Republicans.

    To be fair: the other side plays the same game, what with that ever convenient bogeyman, the Liberal Press getting ready to destroy America, and everything she stands for…

    Enjoy the violin music, while Rome continues to burn…

    Comment by Optimist | July 15, 2008

  3. LOL – I’m on the same Boxer mailing list, I think because I registered at a couple of sites related to global warming.

    The Democrats are trying to spin this issue because it’s a loser for them with the public, who (correctly IMO) sense that the party has worked hard to keep their constituencies in Greenpeace, NRDC, and the Sierra club happy by opposing development of OCS and ANWR, opposing expansion of nuclear power, and opposing importation of LNG. Hence the sound bites about how “we can’t drill our way out of this problem”, “it won’t have any impact for 10 years”, etc. etc. Well, um, we can’t conserve our way out of the problem either, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. And CAFE standards, EVs, and more renewables won’t have much impact for 10 years, also not a reason to ignore these measures.

    The Democrats are as dug in on their untenable position as the Republicans are on theirs (downplaying environmental issues and the realities of depletion). It falls to us (the voters) to break the gridlock.

    Comment by Anonymous | July 15, 2008

  4. I particularly love the comment that companies already have enough acreage that they aren’t exploring. Boxer’s aides haven’t even bothered to check drilling rig activity, and also make the assumption that all leases are the same. As if you only have to apply a simple formula to convert acres into barrels.

    Comment by armchair261 | July 15, 2008

  5. Barbara Boxer is a moron, it’s really that simple. The fact that she is a US senator is a disgrace. She has to be one of the stupidest people I have ever heard speak. You should set your inbox to forward her email straight to spam where they belong.

    Comment by Anonymous | July 15, 2008

  6. I agree with Optimist. The words “feckless, decadent, irresponsible, corrupt, inept and just plain stupid” apply to both parties.
    Happily, there are still elements of the market system working in America. Light a candle and pray.

    Comment by benny "peak demand" cole | July 15, 2008

  7. So much for the ad hominem attacks. Descriptions such as “moron” are – moronic because they add nothing to the discussion.
    Are you saying drill the coast and damn the consequences? Oil at any price?
    Say what you think, and skip the personal attack bullshit.

    Comment by Anonymous | July 15, 2008

  8. Would it be ad hominem to call Senator Boxer a demagogue?

    Comment by KingofKaty | July 15, 2008

  9. At a minimum I’ll trade you ANWR and some more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for generous, multiyear renewable tax credits, plus a 100% rebated (to the public) gradually rising carbon tax, a la Carbon Tax Center.

    But stay away from Big Sur, off Monterey Peninsula, and the North Coast of California, as well as the coasts of Oregon and Washington. In the long run, the tourism industry is more important than a few measly hundred million barrels of oil or so.

    A Liberal Coastal Californian who NEVER liked Boxer starting 30 years ago, when she was a Marin County! stupidvisor

    Comment by Anonymous | July 15, 2008

  10. I saw this report and thought of Robert: Global warming to spark rise in kidney stones .

    It must have been all that sweating in Aberdeen caused by global warming. We used to play the trivia game “6 degrees of Kevin Bacon”. Now it seems you can link anything bad to global warming in only 1 step.

    Comment by KingofKaty | July 15, 2008

  11. “Are you saying drill the coast and damn the consequences? Oil at any price?”

    No. Let the states decide. Competing interests such as tourism and fishing are legitimate concerns. But I think states with high exploration potential, which close off their acreage to exploration, may be adding costs to the rest of the US in the form of (possibly) oil prices but more likely increasing the trade deficit and all that that entails. Maybe the US government should consider whether such states ought to compensate the rest of us.

    As to risks…. about 7,200 wells have been drilled offshore California, with one blowout in 1969. There have been a lot of advances in technology since then. There have been something like 50,000 wells drilled offshore Gulf of Mexico, without a single comparable blowout on the US side, even during Katrina and Rita. There was one serious blowout in Mexico some 20 years ago. The incentives for the industry to avoid an environmental disaster are huge. It doesn’t mean such a disaster is impossible. But let’s keep the true risk in perspective.

    The tourism industry might be worth more than a few hundred million barrels. Is it worth more than a few tens of billions? Not sure. How much is each worth? But as one who spends at least a week every year in Big Sur, I understand the Californian’s perspective.

    I was also living in Marin when Boxer got her start. She’s just another ideologue, the kind that gets in the way of a discussion rather than helping to solve it.

    Comment by armchair261 | July 15, 2008

  12. “about 7,200 wells have been drilled offshore California, with one blowout in 1969”

    Thanks for the information. Do you know how much oil is leaked aside from blowouts, and is it significant?
    I think you’ll say “no” because of your other comments, but it would be interesting to see some statistics.

    I haven’t done any research on the environmental impacts of normally functioning wells, but I might have a look. Maybe you have some references.

    And of course nobody forgets the Exxon Valdez. People are naturally nervous about such large scale accidents even if they are very rare.

    Comment by Rodt | July 15, 2008

  13. I also agree with anonymous. Although I grew up in a Democratic household, I am an firm independent. I often tell Democrats, especially older ones that this is NOT the democratic party of J.F.K or Eisenhower. We have so many useless individuals from both parties in both sides of the house and Boxer heads that list. Of course we are stuck with this two party system where both parties worry more about getting one up on the other party than they do with actually fixing the problems in the country.

    I sure wish that both sides would quit worring about steriods in pro sports and wondering who said what about whom and get down to the things that are really important like our growing debt, the trade imbalance, the weaking dollar, the energy crisis, and of course taxes.

    Its funny how the only time the two parties can work together and get a nearly unanimous decision is when they vote on a pay raise for themselves.

    Comment by Scott Burrow | July 15, 2008

  14. Ain’t that the truth. Wish they could get their act together and pass some meaningful legislation.

    Comment by Anonymous | July 15, 2008

  15. The Santa Barbara Channel has one of the world’s most prolific oil seeps, too: Submarine Oil Seep Study. An environmental disaster, courtesy of God!

    I listen off and on to liberal talk radio; the right wingers are all complete knuckle draggers, although Michael Savage is an entertaining nut job. Anyway all I hear out of these yacking progressives is the same litany of pablum Barbara’s spewing here. Never once heard anybody point out that the IOCs hardly control any of the world’s oil, for instance – thus have little to do with supply=price.

    In Congress’s defense I seriously doubt any of them except Bartlett ever thought to dig deeper than USGS/EIA estimates of decades of plentiful production through reserves growth; or considered that unconventional oil would be such a chore to extract, or that alternatives would be slow to come to market and expensive. In the era of $10/bbl they had much bigger fish to fry – flag burning, or $3 Bill getting his pole smoked. Unfortunately for us Peak Oil, like Global Warming, has legs and is coming on a lot faster than models suggested.

    Comment by The Dude | July 15, 2008

  16. Senator Jim Demint has some interesting info at his blog:
    “63% of All Oil in U.S. Waters Comes From Nature, 1% From Offshore Drilling.”

    Comment by Paul | July 15, 2008

  17. Funny thing about the extraction industry. The oil companies get all the profit and the locals get stuck with the mess.

    Comment by robert | July 15, 2008

  18. One idea about offshoure drilling (or in shale deposits): It seems like world oil markets are sensitive to minor swings in production and demand. In other words, if world oil demand is 86 mbd, and supply not quite enough, the price rationing gets ferocious.
    So, while another mbd from domestic production may seem minor, it could play a role in oil markets.
    And so could cutting demand by several mbd, which the United States should also try to do.
    I still think the U.S. should resolve to obtain energy independence, and can do so much more easily than some paid-ff naysayers say.
    But not with Barbara Boxer or George Bush running things

    Comment by benny "peak demand" cole | July 15, 2008

  19. rodt,

    I don’t have any statistics on spills due to drilling accidents, but I’m sure given enough time on Google they could be found. Operators are required to report spills of 1000 gallons or more. Here’s an extract from a paper:

    OIL AND GAS OPERATIONS OFFSHORE CALIFORNIA:
    STATUS, RISKS,AND SAFETY
    http://www.marineornithology.org/PDF/31_1/31_1_6_mccrary.pdf

    “In 2000, approximately 36 million barrels (bbl) of oil were produced from Federal waters [in offshore California], all of which was transmitted to shore by pipeline. In comparison, approximately 260 million bbl of crude oil and distillates (e.g.,gasoline) are transported by tanker along the California coast each year. The largest oil spill from offshore oil operations in California was the 1969 80,000-bbl Santa Barbara spill, which resulted in the loss of
    thousands of birds. …… Since 1969, only one spill from oil and gas operations offshore California has resulted in documented seabird mortality, the 163-bbl [6846 gallons] Platform Irene pipeline spill off Point Arguello in 1997, which resulted in the loss of more than 700 birds.”

    More common are spills from tankers, even though these are also rare, and declining. A good start for research is the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federated Limited, which monitors spills around the world.
    http://www.itopf.com/information-services/data-and-statistics/statistics/#no
    Over the past 7 years the number of spills worldwide averaged 3.6 per year. By contrast, the count was 25.2 spills per year in the 1970’s.

    The tanker trade will carry on whether or not California opens its offshore to exploration. New discoveries offshore would also likely be delivered to the mainland via pipeline and might not result in significant new tanker traffic, to the extent that California would consume the new found oil.

    So yes there are risks, but the risks are not as great as commonly thought, and much, much lower than the average junior senator from California might assume.

    Comment by armchair261 | July 15, 2008

  20. “Funny thing about the extraction industry. The oil companies get all the profit and the locals get stuck with the mess.”

    Well, not really. The oil companies also provide lots of local jobs. They pay local and federal taxes. They support local merchants and industries through their purchases and employee purchases. They are often generous supporters of their communities through corporate donations. If you doubt this, go visit some centers of oil production, like Bakersfield, California or Lafayette, Louisiana. Ask the locals whether their economy is benefitting from the oil industry.

    And the mess? Could you give some examples? Is one Valdez in 34 years of Alaskan production your idea of a good generalization? Oil companies aren’t allowed to just leave unneeded offshore platforms (or any equipment onshore either, for that matter) lying around when their useful life is over. There are regulations governing this.

    You can go to
    http://www.rigzone.com/store/product.asp?p_id=51 and find a book on the topic of abandonment, “Abandonment of Offshore Oil & Gas Fields.”

    Comment by armchair261 | July 15, 2008

  21. http://www.independent.com/news/2008/jan/05/no-really-greka-spills-again/

    They spill oil every week. It just isn’t coverred by the national news.

    Comment by robert | July 15, 2008

  22. All spills of more than 1000 gallons (24 barrels) have to be reported to the feds by law. Small spills do happen. Accidents happen in just about any industry. But overall the volume spilled is pretty small. Operators are highly incentivized not to spill because:
    1) they don’t want the litigation
    2) they don’t want the cleanup expenses
    3) they don’t want the bad PR
    4) they would rather sell the oil than spill it
    5) managers don’t want the blot on their careers
    5) last but not least, those running oil operations are real people who don’t particularly want to destroy the local environment they live in, despite the cartoonish perception of much of the public.

    I will also note that companies don’t just leave the mess behind. They have to remediate.

    If you google enough, you’ll find occasional incidents like these. It’s a dangerous and messy industry. You have stressed equipment under high temperature and pressure conditions. As a percentage of total production, though, spilled oil is infinitesimal, for the reasons I listed above.

    With one major offshore spill out of about 87,000 offshore wells drilled in the past 50 years, the risk of major environmental damage should not be exaggerated.

    Comment by armchair261 | July 15, 2008

  23. I didn’t google enough, I lived it. The people of California don’t won’t your oil spills.

    Comment by robert | July 15, 2008

  24. No, but you want your gas. You just want it produced somewhere else, is that correct?

    Explain to me why you think the industry wants to spill oil in California.

    Comment by armchair261 | July 15, 2008

  25. Larry Kudlow has an interesting take: Way to go Bush!

    This was on a day that the $ lost ground to the Euro and Pound, which should have driven oil prices higher.

    BTW – oil stocks were also down. XOM -3.9%, Chevron -3.8%, ConocoPhillips -4.3%. S&P 500 was only off 1% and NASDAQ was up. So much for President Bush’s announcement being a payoff to big oil. Want to increase oil companies stock price? Restrict access to reserves.

    Comment by KingofKaty | July 15, 2008

  26. king,

    I’d bet my last donut that today’s drop had more to do with Bernanke’s gloom and OPEC’s declining demand forecast.

    Comment by armchair261 | July 15, 2008

  27. I read a long time ago (but cannot verify) that the Exxon Valdez spill killed fewer birds than are killed EACH DAY in the US by flying into plate glass windows.

    Comment by PeteS | July 16, 2008


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