Let politicians know your opinion.
I recently wrote to my House Representative, Jim Moran regarding off-shore drilling. I feel strongly about this topic and I actually wrote to other politicians including:
VA Governor, Tim Kaine
VA Senator, Jim Webb
VA Senator, John Warner
US President, George Bush
McCain cites the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico after recent hurricane activity (e.g., Katrina) as proof the technology used on oil platforms means oil will not harm the US costal waters and shores. A critical piece of information that has been missing from much of the media and both presidential candidates is that oil did spill into the ocean and typically always does.
In fact, The Minerals Management Service, an organization within the Department of the Interior, reported 113 oil platforms were destroyed. An excerpt from the MMS Katrina press release follows:
“MMS also is releasing the following tally of hurricane-related oil/condensate/chemical spills in Federal offshore OCS waters as reported to MMS and the National Response Center. Six spills of 1,000 barrels or greater were reported; the largest of these was 3,625 barrels of condensate reported by the Gulf South Pipeline Company in the Eugene Island Block 51 area. A total of 146 spills of 1 barrel or greater have been reported in the Federal OCS waters; 37 of these were 50 barrels or greater. No shoreline or wildlife impacts were noted from these spills.” Link: [Full Press Release]
To date, 7/28/08, Jim Moran and Jim Webb have responded; their responses are below. I appreciated Jim Moran’s response and although Jim Webb’s didn’t hit on all of the points I wrote to him about, he at least discussed one topic.
July 21, 2008
Mr. Matthew Ingram
Dear Mr. Ingram:
Thank you for contacting me to register you opposition to oil and gas drilling in protected areas of the Outer Continental Shelf. I appreciate your views.
Short of mandating price controls, there is little the federal government can do over the short term to influence the price of oil which is set in the international market place based on the law of supply and demand. Drilling here and drilling beyond where it is allowed today will do nothing now to address our dependence on oil, nor will it have any impact on current gas prices.
Over the past eight years, the oil industry has been given unprecedented access to drilling on public lands. Since 2001, the federal government provided the oil and gas industry the rights to drill on more than 300 million acres of public land offshore and approved more than 40,000 permits to drill on public land onshore. Despite this access, there has been no apparent benefit to consumers, gas prices have not dropped and the industry has more land than it can or is able to develop. More than 68 million leased acres has not been brought to production.
Approving more leases will not increase current production, and it will not solve the underlying energy problem – our dependence on oil, growing world demand and limited world supplies. Nor will approving more leases have an impact on today’s oil prices, and it will have little, if any, on future oil prices. The U.S. Energy Information Administration confirmed this assessment this past June when it reported that massive additional domestic drilling would have no impact on gas prices in the next ten years and would, at best, only reduce gasoline prices by a few pennies per gallon a decade from now. In all likelihood, those few pennies in future savings will never be realized since world demand and OPEC will have a much greater impact on world oil supplies and prices than any new supply the U.S. could bring into production. The U.S. holds less than three percent of world reserves and is already producing eight percent of the world’s supply. Any increase in domestic production will likely be overwhelmed by factors outside the U.S.’s ability to control. Opening up and depleting our last reserves will also place us in an even more precarious position where, once we exhaust our remaining reserves, we will become entirely dependent on imports. Unless we find ways to use energy more efficiently and develop cleaner alternative sources of energy, opening up our last reserves will gain us nothing, but bring us closer to the day we exhaust this limited source, leaving no energy reserves for our children or grandchildren.
Unfortunately, very few alternative policy options have been implemented due to entrenched resistance. It took more than 30 years before the resistance broke on adopting more stringent fuel efficiency standards for automobiles and trucks. Last year, Congress finally passed legislation raising the fuel efficiency standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. By 2030, this new standard will reduce our daily oil consumption by 4 million barrels per day, twice the amount we import today from the Persian Gulf.
Legislation requiring utility companies to generate more electricity from renewable sources is still being blocked by a minority in the Senate. Today the same oil and gas industry, and their allies in Congress, are blocking legislation a majority in Congress supports that would redirect tax benefits designed to support the oil and gas industry when prices were low towards the development of renewable sources of energy. Government energy research that led to the development of the hybrid vehicle and energy efficient appliances and turbines is less than 20 percent of what was invested in the 1980s, and a veto threat lies against efforts to increase budgets for more research.
To the extent speculation is influencing the price of oil, the House has passed legislation (H.R. 6377) granting the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission greater authority to regulate oil futures market. This legislation is being blocked by a minority in the Senate.
Finally, as stewards of the public’s lands, we have a responsibility that should not change with the rise or fall of gasoline prices to protect ecologically sensitive areas. Drilling has permanent, detrimental impacts on the environment. While catastrophic oil spills, fortunately, are rare, millions of gallons of oil and petroleum products are released into the environment every year from offshore drilling operations. Today, vast areas of the Gulf of Mexico are dead zones, and pipelines and onshore processing and refinery plants are responsible for destroying hundreds of miles of wetlands and sensitive coastal habitat along the Gulf coast. This would likely happen to the Chesapeake Bay if Virginia shores are open to drilling.
In my view, opening America’s last oil and gas reserves for no immediate and questionable long term relief at the pump is not worth the price of future energy security, environmental harm, and the potential deterioration of coastal communities that are dependent on tourism and fishing.
Thank you again for contacting me on this very important issue.
James P. Moran
P.S. I invite you to visit my website at http://www.moran.house.gov that contains information on many topics of interest and allows you to sign up for the Moran e-News.
June 27, 2008
Dear Mr. Ingram:
Thank you for contacting me to express your views about drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska.
The ANWR was established to preserve wildlife and unique wilderness areas. The ANWR is inhabited by 45 species of land and marine mammals, including the polar, grizzly, and black bear; wolverine; muskox; and the free-roaming caribou. Thirty-six species of fish live in Arctic Refuge waters, and 180 species of birds have been observed on the refuge.
I am a strong advocate for environmental conservation because I know that nature is a valuable resource that must be preserved for the benefit and enjoyment of our present and future generations. From the protection of flora and fauna and their habitats to the conservation of our forests, land, air, and waterways, I am committed to preserving our natural environment. Thus, while I agree that our nation needs to take steps to reduce our dependency on foreign sources for oil, I do not support drilling in the ANWR. The minimal oil the ANWR produces cannot make a major difference in our foreign oil demand, and the environmental costs associated with drilling there far outweigh the benefits. Instead, I believe that improved conservation and greater use of alternative energy sources would help make the United States become a more self-sufficient nation.
I would also invite you to visit my website at http://www.webb.senate.gov for regular updates about my activities and positions on matters that are important to Virginia and our nation.
Thank you again for contacting me and my staff on this important matter. We appreciate your correspondence and hope that you will not hesitate to share your views with us on this and other matters in the future.
United States Senator