Friday, September 19, 2008

Remind Me: Why Do We Want To Drill There?

Gas stations in Nashville are still dry. My cousin, who lives in Houston, had this to report yesterday:
Gasoline? Well, that’s another story.  A lot of the stations are still closed because they don’t have electricity to pump gas; those that are open have  folks in long lines with short tempers and little patience.   Having to go through all of this stuff locally makes one think what it would be like if there was a national disaster.  (God forbid.)

Indeed it does.

In fact, this reminds me an awful lot of 1973. I was just a kid back then, too young to drive, but old enough to remember the long lines at gas stations, the gas rationing, the “vehicles with odd-numbered license plates can purchase gas Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, even-numbered plates get Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays.” Good times, good times. You’d think we’d have learned our lesson then, but noooo!!!

So now we have the same GOP morons singing “drill here, drill now!” Really? You think we can drill our way out of this mess? And in the hurricane-prone Gulf of Mexico, too?

Recent events show how insanely precarious it is to locate our energy security in this region. Hurricane Ike, like Katrina before it, has wrecked havoc on regional oil and gas supplies:

Hurricane Ike destroys 49 oil platforms in Gulf

WASHINGTON (AP) — At least 49 offshore oil platforms, all with production of less than 1,000 barrels a day, were destroyed by Hurricane Ike as it raced across the Gulf of Mexico, and some may not be rebuilt, the Interior Department said Thursday.

It said in the latest hurricane damage assessment that the platforms altogether accounted for 13,000 barrels of oil and 84 million cubic feet of natural gas a day.

That doesn’t sound so bad until you read the rest of the story:

The agency also said five gas transmission pipeline systems sustained damage, although the extent of damage is not yet known. It earlier had reported four oil drilling rigs had been destroyed and another damaged.

Meanwhile, the Energy Department reported that as of midafternoon Thursday, 12 of 31 refineries in Texas and Louisiana, with a total production capacity of 3 million barrels a day, remained shut down as a result of the hurricane that swept through the region on Sept. 13. A number of the others are operating at reduced runs.

About 93 percent of the Gulf's crude oil production remains shut down as does 77.6 percent of its natural gas production, said the Minerals Management Service.

The Energy Department said 10 of 39 natural gas processing facilities also were still closed as a result of the Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Gustav which hit two weeks earlier, giving the Gulf's energy infrastructure a glancing blow.

The Gulf region accounts for 25 percent of the country's domestic oil production, or about 1.3 million barrels a day, and 15 percent of its natural gas supplies, or about 7 billion cubic feet of gas a day.

Wow. So a region of the country responsible for 25% of our domestic oil production is vulnerable to storms. And hey, as we saw with Hurricanes Gustav and Hannah, the mere threat of a storm is enough to send gas prices hopping.

And this is the foundation of our so-called energy security/national security? Geeez. At least when dealing with unfriendly Middle Eastern regimes we can always, you know, send the U.S. military in to keep the oil flowing (ooops I mean spread democracy, gosh what was I thinking?) The National Guard is pretty powerless against the whims of weather and other “acts of God.” Talk about a faith-based policy.

The fact that Republicans fillibustered the energy bill last December is just further proof that they are in the pockets of Bil Oil. This has nothing to do with energy security and everything to do with giving more breaks to Big Oil, using high gas prices as a way of manipulating public opinion.

The American people may be singing “drill here drill now” today, but they will be singing the blues tomorrow. That’s not “our” oil. It’s ExxonMobil’s oil. It’s Shell’s oil. We do not have a nationalized oil industry in this country (unlike most of the rest of the world, I might add.) There is no assurance that oil pulled out of the Gulf of Mexico or off the coast of California or out of the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge will end up in U.S. automobiles. It’s all sold on the world market and it’s just as likely to end up in the car of someone living in Beijing.

So if you want to rape American land and waters to ensure the continued economic dominance of 1.3 billion Chinese, more power to you. Doesn’t exactly sound like a winning plan to me.

Nothing against the Chinese, of course. Just don't try to portray this as some kind of "patriotic duty" because it's not. It's more pandering to multinational corporations, and the American people are the chumps who swallow the lies every single time.

Alternately, you can start conserving NOW. You can start transitioning to alternative fuels NOW (we can’t sell our solar power to the Chinese). We can start rethinking how we live NOW. We should have started doing this back in 1973. If we had I guarantee you we would not be in the position we’re in today.

True energy security and national security means never having to say I’m sorry to a multinational oil conglomerate like ExxonMobil.

(As for the photo above, it's an oil slick surrounding a pumpjack September 14, 2008 in High Island, Texas. The photorapher is Smiley N. Pool/AFP/Getty Images).