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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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In Sturgis, SD last week John McCain addressed attendees of the annual motorcycle rally there by proclaiming

“We’re not going to pay $4 dollars a gallon for gas (when I am president) because we are going to drill offshore and we are going to drill now. We are doing to drill here and we are going to drill now,”

(Oinounou, Mosheh, “McCain rallies bikers at Sturgis“, Fox News, August 4th 2008 )

How amazing. “Drill here. Drill now!” The mantra of the Republican party that they claim will solve our energy crisis. How deceitful of Senator McCain. But wait…it gets better. He then tells the rally attendees

“My opponent doesn’t want to drill, he doesn’t want nuclear power. He wants to inflate your tires.”

(Oinounou, Mosheh, “McCain rallies bikers at Sturgis“, Fox News, August 4th 2008 )

In both of the above points McCain is a liar…or at the least completely misleading. Barack Obama’s energy plan includes nuclear energy as a part of his overall plan and notes that “Nuclear power represents more than 70 percent of our noncarbon generated electricity. It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power as an option.” (“Barack Obama : New Energy for America“, 2008, found at http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/factsheet_energy_speech_080308.pdf). Senator Obama acknowledges that nuclear power generation is something we will need for a long time in order to meet our climate goals. John McCain’s proclamation that “he [Obama] doesn’t want nuclear power” is a ball-faced lie and Mr. McCain better own up to it. As for the “My opponent doesn’t want to drill” argument — that’s patently false. On August 1st 2008 Barack Obama told the Palm Beach Post during a trip to Florida

“My interest is in making sure we’ve got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices,…If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage — I don’t want to be so rigid that we can’t get something done,”

(Whitesides, John, “Obama says would consider limited offshore drilling“, Reuters, August 1, 2008 )

Just because Senator Obama is not in favor of the rape and pillage style offshore oil drilling that Senator McCain and his Republican cohorts want doesn’t mean that he’s opposed to offshore drilling. But it has to be done with consideration and forethought…something that appears to be outside of John McCains capabilities. In addition, “Drill here! Drill now!” will absolutely, positively not affect gas prices in the immediate or near-term future — unless you consider “near term” as being around a decade. That’s completely misleading and shows what a low impression Republicans and John McCain have for the voter’s intelligence. In fact it’s downright insulting.

But let’s move on. John McCain then told the attendees of the motorcycle rally

“Is there anyone that is tired of paying…four dollars a gallon for gasoline. Is there anyone that is sick and tired of it? Is there anyone that wants to become energy independent?” McCain said. “Well I am telling you right now we are sending 700 billion dollars (abroad) and your Congress just went on vacation for five weeks. Tell them to come back and get to work.”

(Oinounou, Mosheh, “McCain rallies bikers at Sturgis“, Fox News, August 4th 2008 )

Those are big words for Mr. Mcain — “come back and get to work.” As Tom Friedman noted in his latest op-ed piece in the New York Times:

It was only five days earlier, on July 30, that the Senate was voting for the eighth time in the past year on a broad, vitally important bill — S. 3335 — that would have extended the investment tax credits for installing solar energy and the production tax credits for building wind turbines and other energy-efficiency systems.

Both the wind and solar industries depend on these credits — which expire in December — to scale their businesses and become competitive with coal, oil and natural gas. Unlike offshore drilling, these credits could have an immediate impact on America’s energy profile.

Senator McCain did not show up for the crucial vote on July 30, and the renewable energy bill was defeated for the eighth time. In fact, John McCain has a perfect record on this renewable energy legislation. He has missed all eight votes over the last year — which effectively counts as a no vote each time. Once, he was even in the Senate and wouldn’t leave his office to vote.

(Friedman, Tom, “Eight Strikes and You’re Out“, The New York Times, August 13th 2008 )

In fact, John McCain has missed a lot of votes over the years. Now, to be fair, Senator Obama also the July 30th vote which is inexcusable…however, he did vote on three previous ocassions in favor of tax breaks for solar and wind energy.

Finally, as it turns out Senator McCain doesn’t work weekends. (Thanks to Bob Cesca and his Goddamn Awesome Blog! Go! for the links). So before Senator McCain gets up and tells a crowd patently misleading and false rhetoric he should check his facts. And, perhaps he should show up in the Senate and vote more often…Congress might get some legislation passed if he did.

Why can’t we? Tom Friedman’s latest op-ed piece in the Sunday New York Times focused on what the Danish have accomplished as far as energy independence. It turns out that the Danish have managed to make themselves 100% energy independent. That’s right…the 1973 Arab oil embargo following the Yom Kippur War initiated by Syria and Egypt against Israel impacted Denmark’s economy hard. The impact was so hard that the Danish had to ban Sunday driving altogether!

What’s most interesting is the response of the Danes to that crisis. Rather than deciding that drilling for more oil domestically was the solution they turned to alternative, renwable energy as their solution. How did they do it. Well, according to Tom Friedman the

Danes imposed on themselves a set of gasoline taxes, CO2 taxes and building-and-appliance efficiency standards that allowed them to grow their economy — while barely growing their energy consumption — and gave birth to a Danish clean-power industry that is one of the most competitive in the world today. Denmark today gets nearly 20 percent of its electricity from wind. America? About 1 percent.

(Friedman, Tom, “Flush with Energy“, The New York Times, August 10, 2008 )

The increased taxes pushed the Danes to be more energy efficient and to innovate in many ways. They recycle waste heat from coal-fired power plants and use it for home heating and hot water and they incinerate trash in central stations also to provide home heating (Friedman, Tom, “Flush with Energy“, The New York Times, August 10, 2008 ) The reshaping of their energy market with high taxes on fossil fuels and high energy efficiency standards has not stifled innovation in the private sector. Rather it has created jobs and industries. In the 1970s Denmark’s wind industry was non-existant. Today one-third of all manufactured terrestrial wind turbines in the world come from Denmark and over the past 10 years Denmark’s energy technology exports have tripled. (Friedman, Tom, “Flush with Energy“, The New York Times, August 10, 2008 ) Denmark’s minister for climate and energy, Connie Hedegaard notes that

“It is one of our fastest-growing export areas,” said Hedegaard. It is one reason that unemployment in Denmark today is 1.6 percent. In 1973, said Hedegaard, “we got 99 percent of our energy from the Middle East. Today it is zero.”

(Friedman, Tom, “Flush with Energy“, The New York Times, August 10, 2008 )

So here’s the bottom line. Denmark had fewer resources than we do now to make this transformation over the past 30 years. What’s stopping us from doing the same thing. Consider that in the short term we will be paying higher taxes for energy but in the long run we will be breaking the oil addiction that OPEC wants us to be on and we will stop channeling money into the coffers of people like Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez who would love nothing better than a world without a United States. Both John McCain and Barack Obama must be willing to spell out a visionary energy plan that will end this stranglehold that OPEC and the petrodictators hold over us. We are already seeing what Vladimir Putin and the Russians are now doing with their newly discovered wealth and power…they’re invading former Soviet republics with the intent of reconstructing a Greater Russia. Similarly with President Chavez and the Arab leaders of the middle east. Our only way to break this is by breaking the oil addication.

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