Drilling or Straw Man: Which Was Has More Energy Potential?

By October 6, 2008Energy

The Examiner newspaper featured a pro-and-con, yea-and-nay, thumbs-up-down pair of columns last week on the value of offshore drilling. The advocate was Virginia state Senator Frank Wagner (R-Virginia Beach), a member of the NAM board of directors. Sen. Wagner has been a longtime advocate of accessing the vast energy resources off the coast of Virginia, helping to spur the nationa interest in Outer Continental Shelf energy development.

In “Offshore drilling is safe, essential to our future,” he writes:

There is no one silver bullet.  Rather, think of the energy solution as a shotgun shell with many silver pellets—and we must scatter all of them, including greatly expanded nuclear generation, clean coal technologies, oil shale recovery, synthetic fuels from coal, biofuels, renewable energy sources, energy efficiency and conservation, and expanded access to resources on the outer continental shelf.

The General Assembly studied all aspects of the offshore industry and found its environmental track record superb. No significant spills from platforms occurred during Rita and Katrina, the largest hurricanes on record. In fact, each offshore platform has become its own ecosystem, with over 30,000 fish congregating there (see www.towersoflife.com). 

Senator Wagner’s column was paired with one by the director of the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, Glen Basa, “Offshore drilling distracts us from solving our energy, climate crisis“:

Here’s why the environmental community opposes it: Offshore drilling has become a politically popular symbol for our failed status quo energy policy.  Chants of “drill, baby, drill” suggest that if we could just tap our offshore resources, we could go back to the halcyon days of cheap gas and gas-guzzling SUVs.  But as much as some Americans might wish it, there are many reasons why that is a time we will not see again.

That’s a straw man argument, putting forth claim that advocates of OCS energy development believe 49 cents a gallon gasoline is the goal of offshore drilling. Misrepresent the advocates by putting the weakest argument possible in their mouths and then knock it down.

But have you ever seen any pro-drilling advocate actually contend the goal is the energy-rich days of, oh, 1971? Read Sen. Wagner’s column: His makes the same case the NAM does – develop and access all sources of energy to ease the pressure on prices. And pursue conservation. Sen. Wagner:

What is needed—now—is a comprehensive national strategy, with streamlined permitting for not only offshore resource recovery, but also nuclear, clean coal and renewables. I have watched a Virginia entrepreneur struggle for years through three lawsuits and reams of bureaucratic red tape in an attempt to erect 20 wind turbines in Highland County. The permitting process for offshore drilling can take ten years; permits for nuclear plants even longer. 

A comprehensive strategy versus a straw man. Which one is more credible?


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