Questions for the WAPO

Last week, the Washington Post ran an editorial questioning key arguments of opponents of outer continental shelf drilling. The questions raised some important points. (WaPo Editorial)

Problem is, instead of closing the case on outer continental shelf drilling, the editorial page of the Washington Post just raised additional questions about the wisdom of drilling.

Again, I invite you to read the editorial for yourself.

What follows a point/counterpoint between the WAPO and questions left unanswered about off shore drilling.

WAPO Argument #1: The Washington post points out the conventional wisdom that the United States has only 3% of known world oil reserves. Evidently, this is based on old data.

The Post argues for updating the data, using modern equipment. Demand is on a permanent upswing, the argument goes, so the U.S. should make absolutely sure it knows just how much oil is available. This would help develop a clearer picture of the advantages and disadvantages of drilling.

Questions: True, but at what cost and what diversion from the real business of delving headlong into the development of wind, biomass, solar and other forms of renewable energy? Is the trade-off of exploration worth the loss in progress with other innovations? Plus, how much is the additional exploration and developing of proper inventory of extraction equipment going to cost the average consumer?

WAPO Argument #2:
Oil leases aren’t considered active unless they pump 130,000 barrels of oil a day. And, oil companies pay rent on leases that are not considered “active.” So, the argument goes, oil companies are not just sitting on existing leases, and would actually be foolish to do so with the price of oil being so high.

Question: Why not focus all efforts on developing the existing leases and the proper extraction technology to extract fossil fuel from said leases? Let’s maximize existing leases before spending capital (consumer capital) on additional exploration.

WAPO Argument #3: Technological developments have made modern-day drilling much more environmentally friendly. Other countries drill off their coast. So should we.

Questions: We have an opportunity, right now while people are mobilized, captivated and ready for a real solution to the fossil fuel addiction. So, why continue justifying the development and extraction of fossil fuels? What is so threatening about pursuing a bold solution? The American people are ready to pool their efforts and lay a foundation for the next generation. The time is now.

If we’re going to continue fossil exploration and extraction (and I know we are), we need to match that action with a carbon auction program.

Such a program would pump money back into the pockets of consumers, while also producing the necessary resources for alternative energy development. While we’re at it, we should eliminate tax subsidies for companies engaging in fossil fuel extraction and transfer them to companies taking risks in developing renewable energy.

After all, with all of the demand projected from China, India and south Asian countries, there’s no need to continue assistance to an industry that’s proven it has no problem making a buck.

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