Will it be possible for environmental groups and the oil industry to find a middle ground to pave the way for exploration off the coasts of the U.S.? We are going to find out soon enough. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is opening up the debate for the next six months and I expect the usual rhetoric from environmental groups who detest any drilling whatsoever; they will claim, as usual, that not enough is being done to encourage alternative fuels and development of already-leased federal lands--all which is a bunch of crock. Democrats will invariably find a means to subsidize "renewable" energy by taxing the oil companies if they are allowed to drill under new leases. And as we found out last year, some leased lands or off shore parcels aren't worth drilling because of the high cost or there is little oil to extract.
I have a wait and see attitude on this because I remember how last year the Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi released a 290-page bill on "off shore" drilling--they pushed it through less than 24 hours later, 236-189. "Closed" rules prohibited the GOP from offering alternatives. And the bill was a porker with little prospects of any real off shore drilling. I wonder what this administration up to? I'm suspicious.
I received an e-mail from the intrepid Jane Van Ryan over at the American Petroluem Institute
informing me that Secretary Salazar will be in my neck of the woods--San Francisco, California--on Tuesday, April 16th to hold a public hearing on offshore drilling. Oh boy, I expect the protests to be colorful and cartoonish. Here is an excerpt from Jane's informative e-mail:
To give you some background, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) – the federal agency responsible for administering the offshore oil and natural gas program – considers the size, timing, and location of the areas to be considered for federal leasing, and it bases its recommendations on the public’s comments. Although a five-year plan approving increased offshore drilling was released in January, Sec. Salazar directed Interior Department scientists to produce new reports on how much oil and gas might be found off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and extended the public comment period to September. Regional hearings like the one in San Francisco are part of that public comment period.
We expect that anti-drilling groups will mobilize their members to make up the majority of comments at the San Francisco hearing, but I wanted to let you know that you and your readers can submit comments to MMS electronically, if desired. This link will direct you to a page on our Web site where you can learn more about the MMS five-year plan and click-through to submit a public comment. In addition, the page has several resources for bloggers, including a blog badge and an interactive widget that will allow you to identify your Congressional representatives, find them on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, or simply send them an e-mail.
So, if any of you are interested in making your voices heard on this issue, this is a good forum to exercise your viewpoint. This country is going to need more energy to power its economy as time goes on--wind mills, solar panels, and bio-fuels will certainly not replace fossil fuels anytime soon. We need to use the resources we have available to us in our own country to keep energy inexpensive and to create jobs. Now is the time to make your voice heard.