President Obama this week announced that his administration would ease-up on the long moratorium on offshore drilling for oil and natural gas. Congress may not have made up its collective mind on the issue but some in the American media have made their positions clear. Observe if you will this headline from the April 1 edition of the Miami Herald:
Obama offshore drilling plan spares South Florida
Here’s a parallel line from a story on the website of KEYT-TV in Santa Barbara, California:
It looks as if California’s coastline was spared, as President Obama announced plans for renewed efforts of offshore oil exploration.
Without getting into the relative merits of the president’s proposal, my question is, from what exactly are these two states being spared? It’s not as if ExxonMobil is planning to plop oil derricks along the strip in South Beach or adjacent to the millionaire mansions of Santa Barbara. But what about the pristine scenery in these areas?
The drilling would not be permitted any closer than 125 miles from any shoreline, which is well into international waters. In fact, nobody would ever see the drilling platforms. A person of average height can only see about three miles into the horizon and even folks in the tallest luxury hotels have a vista that extends maybe 25 or 30 miles tops. No, wrecking the view isn’t something that folks are being spared from.
Perhaps the media are pleased that Florida and California have been spared from offshore drilling oil spills. Not likely. American oil platforms haven’t spilled a drop of oil in more than 40 years. So maybe these media pronouncements of sparing geographic locales from drilling is nothing more than a parochial NIMBY principle in play, a happy reminder that any new drilling will not be in my backyard.
That’s cool. But one thing these area will most certainly be spared is new job creation. Opening up American coastal waters for drilling could create more than 76,000 new jobs – pretty good ones too. The salary for entry level grunts runs around the low $30k range which won’t make a guy rich but getting three weeks vacation for every two weeks on the rig is one helluva compensation plan.
Then there’s sparing all Americans – even the common folk residing in the flyover country between South Beach and Santa Barbara – from the prospect of energy independence. Consider US oil production v. imports. During the last week of March, domestic oil production totaled 5,489,000 barrels while imported oil for the same week amounted to 14,234,000 barrels – more than two-and-a-half times the amount extracted from American sources.
Where does this imported oil come from? Among the top five nations providing oil to the U.S. – about 71% of all crude oil imports – are such hospitable locales as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. I take some comfort in knowing that Canada supplies the biggest chunk of our imported oil (even though they did beat us for the Olympic gold medal in hockey. Hosers…) But it’s hard to understand how any serious person interested in energy independence can sleep well at night knowing that more than 1.5 million barrels of imported oil each day is controlled by Marxist lunatic Hugo Chavez down in Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, a diplomatic ally but also a well-known source of funding for anti-American terrorism.
Sparing Florida or California or anywhere else from offshore drilling will also spare us from lower energy costs. The law of supply and demand tells us that more oil results in lower prices. While opponents will argue that offshore drilling won’t do a thing to lower energy costs, there are plenty of folks – including some congressional Democrats – who seem to think otherwise.
Rather than news coverage heralding how one area or another will be “spared “ from offshore drilling, I’d rather see coverage on how offshore drilling can spare us all from the problems caused by surrendering American energy independence.