You have to give the Republicans credit: When their corporate bosses give them a “talking point”, they talk about it. The latest one is the “urgent” need to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and all of our offshore waters to oil drilling.
President Bush began the campaign by lifting the presidential “ban” on offshore drilling and challenging Congress to lift the congressional “ban” also. In reality, there is no “ban” on offshore drilling--only a moratorium on the sale of any further offshore drilling permits, because eighty percent of our offshore areas are already open for drilling.
· Over the past 40 years, oil companies have drilled thousands of wells across the western and central gulf, and there are now about 3,800 offshore structures there.”--St. Petersburg Times, 6/20/08
The moratoria began in 1990, after the supertanker Exxon Valdez ran aground and spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound. The spill fouled 1,300 miles of shoreline, killed hundreds of thousands of birds and marine animals, and destroyed the livelihood of thousands of fishermen. This moratorium remained in effect until George W. Bush rescinded it (July 14, 2008). Fortunately, there is still a congressional moratorium preventing the expansion of drilling into protected areas (at least until Congressional Democrats surrender to the White House--as they usually do).
To pull this off, the Republicans know that they must convince the American people that offshore drilling is environmentally safe and our beaches will not end up like the shores of Prince William Sound. To accomplish this, they will do what they usually do--LIE!
· “When we had Katrina and Rita, the two worst hurricanes in--at least in recent memory, in ‘05, some three years ago, there was not one case where we had a situation with oil or gas being spilled in the environment.”--Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman
· “[T]hat’s one of the great unwritten success stories, after Katrina and Rita, these awful storms, no major spills.”--Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), Fox News, 6/27/08
…and for sissies who do not even want a single drop of oil spilled on their beaches, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said this:
· “I think people are reassured that not a drop of oil was spilled during Katrina or Rita. Those rigs in the Gulf, there was not a single incident of spillage that anyone reported.”--
I’m sure people would be reassured--if it were true.
· “...Hurricane Katrina ripped into Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005, destroying 115 oil platforms, significantly damaging 52 more and setting adrift 19. More than 7-million gallons of petroleum products spilled, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.”-- St. Petersburg Times, 6/20/08
· “The quantity and cumulative magnitude of the 595 spills, which were spread across four states and struck offshore and inland, rank these two hurricanes among the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history.”--Houston Chronicle, 11/13/05
The other big lie Republicans are pushing is that opening environmentally sensitive offshore areas and ANWR to drilling will lower the price of gasoline. The next time you see a Republican being interviewed, listen. It won’t matter what the question is, the Republican answer will be that we need to open ANWR and the remaining offshore areas to increased drilling.
The problem with this simple-minded solution is that expanded drilling in our coastal areas and ANWR will not lower the price of gasoline. Our government’s own Energy Information Administration released a report last year, saying:
· “[A]ccess to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Leasing would begin no sooner than 2012, and production would not be expected to start before 2017. ...Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.”
Polling has yielded mixed results when trying to access the success of Bush’s campaign. The American people continue to value the environment and believe that more should be done to develop alternate energy technologies, but there has been a definite increase in the number of people who support increased drilling (once again proving the old adage: If you tell a lie often enough, it becomes the truth).