We deserve offshore drilling

PHOTO: Offshore Oil Rig

Relaxing regulations on offshore drilling has become a major part of McCain’s campaign message. Two days ago he visited an offshore rig to prove his sincerity (last time he tried to visit, he had to cancel because of an oil spill, no joke). McCain says that offshore drilling now will help end our dependency on foreign oil.

What McCain hasn’t said is that the Bush administration’s own Energy Information Administration says that increased drilling would “would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.”

And after 2030 what happens to prices? “Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.”

So, for potentially great environmental costs, we can expect an “insignificant” decrease in the price of gas. Yet, McCain thinks offshore drilling is significant enough to talk about incessantly (it was a big applause line at the Saddleback forum). Leave it to the Republicans to support an idea that could only possibly help oil companies and lie through the teeth about it.

And leave it to the Americans to buy the BS hook, line and sinker. A solid 51% of Americans think that expanding offshore drilling would “reduce the price of gasoline in the next year,” according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll conducted late July.

Five years after thinking Saddam Hussein had a personal hand in the attacks on 9/11, Americans still seem absolutely incapable of arriving at logical conclusions.

As a result, Obama is now willing to compromise on his opposition to drilling if it’s part of a broader plan that includes alternative energy. Some people will say that’s a betrayal of principle on Obama’s part. Others will say it’s a smart move if it allows greater spending on alternative energy. But what’s most striking is how Obama is practically forced to change his position because so many Americans have been fooled or are simply morons.

It’s starting to make me rethink my entire outlook on things like the Iraq war. How much blame can we continue to put on Bush and his congressional enablers if the public supported them every step of the way. Sure, it took a massive propaganda campaign to gather that support that they’ve now lost. But there has been little in the way of propaganda for practically starting a war with Russia over the Georgian crisis. That’s what McCain seems to want, and the American people trust his judgement on that issue by a 28% margin over Obama.

At some point don’t we have to look at ourselves, and just admit that we’re too easily fooled and we’re getting what we deserve? That’s why if offshore drilling regulations are relaxed, and the environment and coastal tourism suffers, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Flickr photo by randomtruth

8 Comments

  1. Sheepywoman

    Well said

  2. Ian

    I don’t think McCain really believes that offshore drilling or drilling in Alaska is going to make a significant impact on pump prices. I think he is just saying it because he knows people will buy into it because gas prices are a concern right now. Didn’t I have a very similar discussion with Clint on a post a while back? I seem to recall saying that our government is a representation of us at least on some level. Our government is stupid and manipulative because we are stupid and easily manipulated.

  3. Chris

    It’s always about Ian being right 🙂

    Maybe I wont be so pessimistic next week, and Ian will be back in the “wrong” column.

  4. Clint

    I think your logic is faulty on this one.

    Obama is not forced to make concessions on offshore drilling because half of the public thinks he should. If public opinion had more than a minimal effect on policy, we would have universal healthcare, be out of Iraq, be part of the Kyoto Protocol, etc.

    Obama is making that concession because the forces with actual political and economic power (huge oil corporations) are pressuring him to do so.

  5. Ian

    Chris,

    Please do. I prefer to be thought of as the site’s resident malcontent.

    Clint,

    That would only be true if Obama was receiving campaign contributions from oil companies. I don’t know if he does, but whatever. I think the oil companies push the idea, McCain and the GOP sell it, and the people buy it. Obama does have to care about what people think because gas prices are a big issue right now. He does have a plan to get out of Iraq. Those are both big issues that people think and hear about every day. The Kyoto Protocol isn’t high on most people’s priority list. Obama’s poll numbers are slipping, he needs to do something.

  6. Chris

    Clint,
    I think that explanation is too simple. It doesn’t address why Obama was opposed to drilling in the first place and it doesn’t address why Bush I put the moratorium on offshore drilling in the first place.

  7. Clint

    Ian,

    Both candidates get money from big oil. A couple short articles:
    http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2008/08/oil-industry-leans-toward-mcca.html
    http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/obamas_oil_spill.html

    Chris,

    Are you admitting that Obama is flip-flopping? (Also, I notice he’s been running several negative campaign ads; what happened to the ethical campaign he was supposedly running?)

    Obama made it sound like he was for many good things early in the campaign. Perhaps a late-campaign desire to please the American business elite who control the country, combined with a foolish strategy of shifting to the right is responsible for his pussy footing.

  8. Chris

    Clint,
    Obama is altering his position. I’ve admitted as such. I don’t think he was morally opposed to offshore drilling, so I wouldn’t say it’s a betrayal of principle or anything. Like he said, if a compromise on drilling creates the political alliance necessary for increased investment in alternative fuels, then it would be a net victory he could support.

    Obama has been running negative ads lately, but they are responses to the McCain campaigns smears. You can’t let your opponent go unchallenged. Here’s a quote from Glenzilla that I totally agree with:

    …this is the kind of campaign the GOP runs every election and in which they specialize, and there are only two options for Democrats in response: (1) purport to “rise above it” and thus ensure that they get slaughtered in a one-sided, one-way War of Personality Demonization which renders issues irrelevant (hence: the all-American Everyman War Hero versus the rich, out-of-touch, effete elitist), or (2) attack the GOP candidate using the same lowly character themes in order to neutralize the attacks and prevent the election from being decided on these grounds. It’s good to see the Obama campaign, finally, engaging these issues aggressively.

    But I don’t disagree that he has made some unfortunate and troubling moves “to the center” a.k.a. toward the business elite’s position.