So John McCain is going around the country, jumping up and down chanting the Republican party’s mantra “Drill Here! Drill Now!” at every opportunity.  Barack Obama, while not a proponent of offshore oil drilling, has taken a more cautious approach — he admits that we may have to accept some offshore oil drilling as a short term solution for higher energy prices until we can get other renewable technologies online.  Obama feels that if we can drill safely and effectively and provide some relief to the oil price pressure then it’s worth the risk.  The problem John McCain is way off base and Barack Obama is also not on the mark but at least he’s more honest.

The Energy Department’s own Energy Information Administration reported in their Annual Energy Overview for 2007 that

The projections in the OCS access case indicate 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. (p59)

(Energy Information Administration,”Annual Energy Outlook 2007“, Department of Energy, DOE-EIA0383(2007), February 2007)

What’s worse is that the impact to the cost of crude oil on the market would be minimal at best

Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant. (p59)

(Energy Information Administration,”Annual Energy Outlook 2007“, Department of Energy, DOE-EIA0383(2007), February 2007)

But don’t tell President Bush and the Republicans in Congress. This is a minor detail in their plan. The fact is that this administration and apparently Senators McCain and Obama choose to ignore the truth when its inconvenient. The Bush administration has a long history of this behavior — everything from the situation in Iraq to global warming. And Senator McCain is falling lockstep behind the administration and the party in this regard as well which is a shame since he, in the past, was quite the maverick and bucked a lot of Republican trends. However, what I find most distressing is that Senator Obama also has bought into this mentality. Why he chose to endorse even limited offshore oil drilling is beyond me but probably goes down to the fact that he wants to defuse Senator McCain’s bogus attacks against him on this issue.

The fact is that offshore oil drilling will not bring us any relief from high crude oil prices. The only thing that will reverse that trend in the near term future is conservation, efficiency improvements and finally the transition of our energy supplies from a fossil fuel base to renewable energy supplies. I’m not saying that this is going to be easy…it’s not. And anyone who says it can be done easily is not being honest by any shade of the imagination. Change at this level takes time and effort. But it can be done.

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