OCS Energy: An Anchorage for Prosperity

The Department of Interior holds another of its meetings on Outer Continental Shelf energy development in Anchorage today, the third of four. On Thursday, it’s San Francisco. (Details.) Secretary Ken Salazar and his staff did a nice job selecting the sites for the public hearings, ensuring a good cross-section of opinion; the other meetings were in Atlantic City, N.J., and New Orleans.

A few timely news reports come our way from the American Energy Alliance:

From Jim McTague at Barrons, “Sensible Drilling: Gone With the Wind?,” sharply critical of Secretary Salazar for overselling wind and underselling fossil fuels:

“America’s own oil and natural-gas supplies are limited,” he pronounced in a speech on April 2. “We sit on 3% of the world’s oil reserves. We consume 25% of its oil. Our dependence on foreign oil is a national security problem, an environmental security problem and an economic security problem.”

Rightly or wrongly, oil men don’t trust Salazar. They believe he means to extend the moratorium on oil and gas exploration indefinitely. He certainly does go out of his way to make the worse case for fossil fuels. Take the 3% number: “It is as old as Moses,” says Michael McKenna, president of MWR Strategies in Virginia, a lobbying and public- relations firm. McKenna represents several drillers.

THE NUMBER DOESN’T ACCOUNT for recent oil and gas discoveries. Salazar in his speech conveniently ignored a study by the U.S. Geological Survey that estimates a total of 1.5 trillion barrels of oil in place in 17 oil-shale zones in the Eocene Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin, which is located in northwestern Colorado.

Meanwhile, energy opponents are warning about past disasters:

San Luis Obispo Tribune (4/12) reports, “The county relies heavily on tourism, and residents routinely cite quality of life and the environment as top reasons for living here, the letter says. While the county’s coast has no offshore oil drilling, it had a “front row seat” to the 1969 oil spill off Santa Barbara, which the letter calls “a major offshore oil disaster.” In addition, the letter goes on, San Luis Obispo County had “extensive experience dealing with the calamitous aftermath of oil company negligence and equipment failure resulting in the massive cleanups in the Guadalupe Dunes and Oil Field and the town of Avila Beach.” Supervisors concede that extraction technology has improved, as have oil transport and delivery. Nonetheless, they write, “substantial risks remain, and these risks far outweigh the benefits.” The letter says the board supports “a comprehensive energy plan” that includes developing “clean, renewable energy in an environmentally balanced manner.”

You would think elected officials would be more in tune with an ongoing disaster in California — the state’s economy, i.e., “California rated low as a place to do business“:

California’s economic outlook ranks 43rd nationally, according to a new report from the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group that includes state lawmakers and private-sector policy advocates.

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