Sunday, December 03, 2006

Outgoing Republicans Try Last Gasp Run to Open Up Eastern Gulf of Mexico to Oil and Gas Exploration

Now Floridians get to share in the joys of having oil and gas exploration take place in their backyard – or so Republicans in a lame duck congress hope. They hope for a vote to enable this on Tuesday. HR 4908 or its already passed Senate version, S 2253, will require that the Secretary of the Interior offer 8.3 million acres in federal waters in the eastern Gulf of Mexico - Florida's OCS area.

Labeled as Area 181 (see map), this is not the first time an attempt has been made to open up the area to oil exploration. Florida’s tourist industry has been instrumental in seeing that oil rigs stay off their horizon. Indeed, Pensacola and Panama City Beach (also known as the “Redneck Riviera”), both key players in this effort, won a small victory in that the proposed bill excludes acreage that come within 100 miles of their coastline. That’s just about all of that long narrow strip you see on the map.

But in truth, the real reason that there hasn’t been any oil and gas exploration in the offshore Florida area is that the oil natural gas reserves in that area probably aren’t there in any accumulations that would be considered economic to recover. 1.3 billion BBL of oil and 5.8 TCF of gas? Give me a break. But oil companies, enriched by record petroleum and gasoline prices, have money to burn and have no problem paying hefty lease prices, and no problem sinking wells in marginal areas.

And that’s the thing that really gets my goat. Here’s this sunset industry, richer than Midas and Croesus combined, pouring billions of dollars, that we had to give to them, into short-term energy solutions – all of which contribute pollutants and greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. What they should be doing, in a big, big, way, is taking those ill-gotten gains and investing in alternative energy sources. How about this proposal to place wind turbines on existing offshore platforms?

Yes, I’ve seen the ads, too. How BP is investing in solar energy. But all they really do is pay lip service to this. They may call it BP Solar, but the P in BP still stands for Petroleum.

But no, lame duck Republicans think that they will have one more opportunity to get this legislation through congress before Democrats take over. After January 3rd the Democratic majority will kill all of their hopes of opening up this area for years.

Fortunately, as mentioned by muse and others, legislators in DC are just beat. Yes, beat as in beaten, but also beat as in dead tired. They may not have the will to see this through.

And it really is a wimp of an energy bill compared to ones that have been served up by Republicans in the past. Why would anyone want to get behind this bill and prove again to the nation what it already knows: the Republican Ride is over.

Getting this bill passed, if it’s at all possible, is definitely not the Republicans going out with a roar.

It’s going out with a meow.

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