This thing just won't die.
John McCain, who did a little photo op on an Exxon platform the other day (to show, I'm sure, his "great concern" about the high price of oil), along with millions of other morons in this country, continue to believe and promote the notion that we have gazillions of gallons of oil beneath our offshore waters, hidden under the Alaskan tundra, or shot through shale in the American west. All we have to do is drill, and shazam!, our gas tanks shall overflow and our troubles will be over. It's kinda like magic!
Not only so, but we'd better get all that oil before other countries, bad countries, like China suck it up. Sen. Larry Craig, the Repugnican from Idaho (and Minnesota bathrooms) warned back in 2006 that China might soon be drilling in waters off the Florida Keys. According to Salon.com, "people like California congressional candidate Tom McClintock see the oil rigs now." McClintock wrote this month that "'The vast oil fields off the coast of Florida that American law prevents Americans from developing are now being drained by the Chinese government drilling in Cuban waters.'"
McClintock must be stupid or devious. Are the Chinese drilling in the "vast oil fields off the coast of Florida," or are they drilling in Cuban waters? Is there an American "law" that forbids Americans from drilling in Cuban waters?
McClintock is full of horse hockey, and everything he says is false, but it plays well to the hoi polloi who are terrified that gas prices might go even higher and their standard of living might be compromised further.
In spite of the latest BS promoted on the Internet by the Repugnican wackos, even if drilling were started today, it would be years before we'd see any oil! A spokesman for the government's Energy Information Administration estimates that "it would take at least five years to begin production in U.S. waters [not Cuban waters!] in the eastern Gulf of Mexico ... The process often takes longer."
Furthermore, the recent claims that the amount of oil to be recovered is so vast we could immediately cease relying on oil from the Middle East, is patently untrue. "The EIA says U.S. waters in the area contain 3.82 billion barrels, half our annual national consumption of 7.6 billion barrels. But it would take decades to extract. If the offshore drilling ban were removed in 2012, the EIA states, it 'would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.'"
Another crazy claim currently making the rounds is that "Alaska has more oil than the Middle East." NOT true!
On Alaska's North Slope, which includes the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, "[I]t can take two or three years to drill a single exploratory well ... because drilling is only possible for a few months at a time in the winter, when the permafrost is frozen hard enough to support equipment." There are other problems, too, such as transporting the necessary infrastructure, the need for "thick gravel 'pad[s],' acres in size," and pipeline corrosion.
"The EIA forecasts that if Congress opened up the ANWR, it would take eight to 12 years go even start production."
The EIA also estimates that because drilling is so difficult and/or impossible in so much of the area, "about 10.4 billion barrels of oil can be recovered from ANWR, just over a year of American consumption. Saudi Arabia has about 260 billion barrels of proven oil reserves."
Maybe the Saudis have just a tad more oil than Alaska? You think?
The plentitude of oil in the so-called Bakken Formation is another story the wingnuts are spreading as the gospel. The Bakken Formation is a "layer of rock underneath North Dakota, Montana and southern Canada." Rush Limbaugh, that drug-addled "rocket scientist" has claimed that "'175 billion to 500 billion barrels of recoverable oil' are located in the Bakken ..."
And all the numbnuts solemnly nod their heads.
NOT so! "Companies are drilling in the Bakken, but an April survey from the USGS reported approximately 3.0 to 4.3 billion barrels of oil could be extracted using cutting-edge technology, or about six months of U.S. consumption. Moreover, says Richard Pollastro, a geologist who led the USGS survey, 'that's what is technically recoverable, not necessarily what is economically recoverable.' Essentially, oil prices would have to increase for companies to extract it at all."
So much for Limbaugh. And all the other wackos for whom truth and science and reality are words that never penetrate the fantasy world in which they live and die without learning a thing!
Cheap oil is of the past. Hell, oil is soon to be of the past. Our only option is not more drilling, but to develop a variety of alternative sources of energy.
Most of the above information was derived from an article by Peter Dizikes writing at Salon.com. You can read the article in its entirety here.