Bush Spins a Big Lie About Offshore Drilling


The push is on, big time. The solution to all of America's problems, evidently, is to drill, drill, drill. This is now the Republican mantra as they seem to believe that they have found a winning political issue, no matter what the implications of this "win" might be for America's future.

Let us be clear. Efforts to increase (actually, struggle to maintain) America's oil production can be part of a holistic energy package. But, only part: far more critical is to use efficiency to produce negagallons to help provide some breathing space to move as much of America's transportation off oil. (To me, the most fruitful path for results by 2020 is mass electrification: rail and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles along with GEM-full flex-fuel for the liquid portion of the ground transportation system.) Even if transportation is 100% non-oil, we will still want oil for many industrial processes and to support manufacture of many products. But, efforts and discussion to explore additional oil production should be part of a larger discussion. And, they should be grounded in truth.

George W Bush, in Saturday's radio address, provided a clear example of how truthiness, rather than truth, reigns in the efforts to promote oil exploration and drilling in the outer continental shelf (OCS).

From that radio chat:

First, we should expand American oil production by increasing access to offshore exploration on the Outer Continental Shelf, or OCS. Experts believe that the OCS that is currently off-limits could produce enough oil to match America's current production for almost ten years.
Wow. The OCS would match today's US oil production for almost ten years? Want lower oil prices? Want Energy Independence? The answer is clear, Drill the OCS, NOW! That is, clear until you examine what the experts actually are saying:
A report last year by the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said that "access 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. --WashPost
George W Bush stated, quite bluntly, that opening up the OCS could match today's total US oil production for a decade. He failed to mention that this would have minimal, if any impact, on America's energy posture for literally decades. The Administration's own experts, who are far from enemies of the oil industry and oil production, state that this move would not begin to produce oil until one year short of that ten years and that would "not have a significant impact on domestic production ... before 2030." And, in 2030, that production level would be just a three percent increase on the case without additional OCS drilling. That three percent is only the slightest fraction of today's American oil production. The United States is producing about 5.1 million barrels of oil per day. The EIA estimate is that the additional offshore drilling would add 200,000 barrels to the 2030 production. To place this into context, US consumption is about 21 million barrels per day. Thus, the entire Republican effort to open up offshore drilling is talking about providing one percent of today's consumption levels 23 years from now.

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