Op-Ed: Call in the roughnecks, the majority of Americans want off-shore drilling

Posted Jul 8, 2008 by Mr Garibaldi
For years, the U.S. has had a noticeable lack of off shore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, an area where vast stores of crude are both known and believed to be located. What is the United States to do now, though, if the Gulf is being pumped by others?
Drilling for black gold
Oil drill outside of Colby, KS
Photo by Lyndi&Jason
If you want to make an environmentalist extremist sweat drops of blood (or maybe crude) mention two topics, ANWR or offshore drilling. For years, the environmentalist movement has kept big oil from drilling in the oil rich region that feeds from the foot of the Mississippi River, arguing that drilling has such a huge negative impact on the environment that it isn't feasible to drill under the floor of the ocean to recover the "black gold" that we all rely upon for heating and energy. And for years, the American public has nodded their collective head, yeah-yeahing the environmentalist lobby, relying on an ample supply of relatively inexpensive fuel supply from the Middle East, so the nation didn't really NEED the Arctic or Gulf Oil.
How quickly a nation forgets the fuel lines from the Carter administration.
The American people have found themselves in a pinch, having allowed governmental agencies to put such heavy restrictions on the oil industry that there have been no new refineries built in the United States in literally decades, existing refineries are operating far below capacity because investment in new equipment to replace old has been lacking, due to funds being allocated for overseas projects, and a heavy reliance on OPEC for a large percentage of our oil.
Through in a little sales process called "speculating," and the American people are facing the highest fuel and oil prices on record. And they're getting very tired of being over a barrel, in a very literal sense.
And they're starting to look at ANWR and at the Gulf of Mexico with the activity going on in international waters by other countries and asking, "Why aren't we getting in on this ourselves?" Polling data from a mid-May Gallup poll shows that 57% American voters are ready to start drilling for oil again on our own soil, both in the Gulf of Mexico and in the frozen northern wastelands of Alaska. This information has put Congress in a bit of a tizzy.
House Democrats are in a bind on the focal point of their energy plan.
Worried that a floor vote on any energy-related measure would trigger a Republican-forced vote on domestic drilling, the leadership has scrubbed the floor schedule of the energy legislation that it vowed to tackle after the Fourth of July recess.
Just before leaving for their districts, a number of House Democrats called a press conference to declare victory on a number of energy bills — including overwhelming passage of a bill to rein in excessive oil market speculation.
Democrats declared victory on a bill they failed to pass on the suspension calendar — their “use it or lose it bill” to force energy companies to either start drilling on their federally leased land or give it back — saying they had put 176 Republicans on record as siding with the oil companies over consumers.
And they vowed that the bill, the centerpiece of their energy message, would be back.
So far, there are no energy related bills slated for discussion in the first week Congress has reconvened following the Independence Day holiday weekend, leading the Republicans to cry "foul," accusing the Democrats of backtracking on their word after realizing that the Republicans could shoot down any marketing changes with legislation of their own calling for new and expanded drilling. Democrats counter that they are simply discussing their options and looking to bring forward the best plan to the table first before making an official presentation out of committee.
At this point, Democratic plans lean toward reforming how oil is sold, putting an end to the practice of speculating, or at the very least putting limitations on how speculating is done in an effort to keep prices from skyrocketing as they have done over the last year. Republican plans call for drilling that would begin immediately, with the intended results of adding more available crude and refined oil products into the market; a larger supply driving prices back down to reasonable figures. The problem here lies in the age of existing drilling and refinery equipment and the urgent need for more and newer equipment in order to significantly increase production of domestic oil, as well as the number of new wells that would need to be drilled to operate along with standing wells that are operating with older pumps, and would include, despite the outcry of the environmentalist left, actually drilling for oil where it can be found such as the Gulf of Mexico and ANWR.
Perhaps, looking objectively outside the box for a moment, some bright soul in Congress (don't hold your collective breath looking for that individual to appear) can come up with a plan that would incorporate both ideas into one piece of legislation that actually does something that benefits the American public for a change, rather than benefiting either one party or the other in the race to make tally marks on who's winning more pieces of useless legislation coming through the government.