There are further items at stake here. Beyond the ban on offshore drilling, environmental regulations have forbidden the construction of new refineries and production sites in the US, and have simultaneously banned the refineries from full production and from upgrading their technologies. Thus, although the current level of technology available for refining oil into end-user products is increasingly clean, the US refineries are stuck with 1970's-era tech. That's one problem.
Another, directly related to the ban, is the problem engendered by our existing dependence on foreign oil. Yes, America has less than 3% of the US oil reserves, but we are actively working less than 10% of our existing reserves (Saudi Arabia, home to nearly 22% of the oil, is working nearly 70%). Why? Because, until recently, it was cheaper to purchase the foreign oil than to produce it here, and because easily-mined/produced oil fields in the US were artificially (i.e. legally) restricted.
Stances from McCain and Obama also need to be put in context. McCain is advocating a wholesale withdrawal from foreign oil dependence; his plan is to use the American reserves while we develop and implement our alternative solutions. To that end, he feels that the ban is counter-productive to American interests. We in America have the advantage of being in one of the few countries in the world to have virtually all resources available to us (food, wood, mining, technology, etc). McCain wants us to use that advantage so as to remove American dependence.
Obama, on the other hand, feels that the answer to foreign oil dependence is strictly a technology issue. Rather than using existing American resources, he wants to develop the new technology to replace our need while we continue to pay for the overseas stuff until we no longer need it. I have yet to see any plan from the Obama camp that would proactively reduce our resource consumption, or that would provide alternative methods of resourcing while we got away from the foreign dependencies. Asking people to cut back on their consumption (Jimmy Carter's sweater, anyone?) is at best an immature response.
Finally, I recognize the costs, both environmental and temporal, involved in offshore drilling. However, a rather simple solution may well be at hand. Currently, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve contains sufficient oil for American consumption for 6.3 years, and several petroleum production companies estimate that they can be at full production (with existing technology) in slightly more than five starting from scratch. My solution: begin selling the excess stockpiled oil at just under the existing price (if oil is $140 a barrel, target $125; this ensures you can sell any quantity required). Use the money thus generated to fund new technology acquisition and development and provide for a fund to reclaim ecosystems that have been damaged by the oil acquisition. The only caveat I toss in here: the developed technology is free to all. No sucking up patents on the governmental teat.
Side: McCain's Right
I disagree with the way Selric summarizes both Obama and McCain's energy plans, but rather than launch into an un-resolvable political debate, I'd like to correct one glaring error in Selric's argument:
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve currently holds 705.9 million barrels of oil. The U.S. currently uses roughly 20 million barrels of oil per day, of which around 12 million are imported. So the SPR only holds a 59-day supply of oil (to replace all imported oil) -- not a 6.3 year supply as Selric suggested.
These figures are all available at the Energy Information Administration website.
EIA website (www.eia.doe.gov)
Senator McCain's take:
"With gasoline running at more than four bucks a gallon, many do not have the luxury of waiting on the far-off plans of futurists and politicians. We have proven oil reserves of at least 21 billion barrels in the United States. But a broad federal moratorium stands in the way of energy exploration and production, and I believe it is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions and to put our own reserves to use.’"
Side: McCain's Right
Only problem with that argument is that 4.4 billion barrels are proved reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, the rest are in U.S. bedrock. And you know what's funny? We're already drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, so bringing up federal restrictions as holding back our use of the 21.4 billion barrels of proved oil reserves is a whopping non-sequiter. So far I haven't seen any articles on geological surveys of possible offshore oil deposits, and since McCain doesn't state any specifics, we have no reason to believe there are oil fields under lock and key by federal bans. At least, none that are included in the 21.4 billion barrel count. If someone can give some articles or surveys that detail what off-limits fields they're looking to drill, that would be much appreciated.
There's a table on the top right listing undiscovered offshore areas currently available for drilling, and those restricted under the ban, as well as estimated recoverable resources:
This is a May 2008 report by the EIA on the effects of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. If you scroll to the summary, you'll get an idea of the impact it'd have (not much).
Everyone realizes that, in total, there are 25 billion barrels of proven oil reserves in the US. We use around 8 billion barrels a year and growing. That's three years. We could get three years of oil. This argument is a short term thing.
Global oil productive has probably already peaked. This means that the total amount of oil produced each year is going to continually decline. The biggest problem here is that demand has been (and will continue to be) steadily increasing.
People, we are running out of oil regardless. "Here's a little here, and some here. We should be worried about getting those-" is the same as standing in a house on fire an arguing about which room is the least hot. Either way, we are all going to burn down unless we get out of the house.
The ONLY solution is to stop using oil. Not stop using foreign oil. Just oil, period.
Now this is not by any means an easy thing to do. Our food industry is heavily dependent on oil. Plastics are essentially oil. This is a very huge problem.
always there's a conflict between short term need and long term security.
i would say we should not use a long term solution to address our short term need. US should be more energy-efficient under this pressure and it will translate into national strength in the long run.
also, under unexpected circumstances, 3% of the world reserve could be vital to national security.
Here's something interesting, John McCain in May:
"[W]ith those resources, which would take years to develop, you would only postpone or temporarily relieve our dependency on fossil fuels," McCain said when asked about offshore drilling. "We are going to have to go to alternative energy, and the exploitation of existing reserves of oil, natural gas, even coal, and we can develop clean coal technology, are all great things. But we also have to devote our efforts, in my view, to alternative energy sources, which is the ultimate answer to our long-term energy needs, and we need it sooner rather than later."
Sounds more like Obama doesn't it? What happened to McCain? He used to be a good guy.
It's not a matter of a quick fix. We won't be free of foreign oil overnight no matter what we do. It's going to take time and multiple administrations. Right now we just need someone to get the ball rolling. Lifting the ban will take years to produce a drop of oil. However, the longest journey starts with a single step and I think this would be a step in the right direction.
I agree. While this move will not move us away from dependency on Middle Eastern oil it would help pump some additional oil supply in to the market (I've heard estimates of 3-10 years, so who knows?) to help alleviate the supply & demand imbalance that is driving up prices.
Not to condescend any other beliefs, but I consider my opinion to be a bit more sensible, because I believe in a compromise. We should devote our resources into discovering a replacement for oil as fuel as much as we can. While we are doing this, we should remove the drilling restrictions so that the pain at the pump can be eased until we find a viable alternative.
You can argue that it will barely lower gas prices, but it shows a lack of understanding about how speculation works. The drilling will increase our domestic oil supply, which will decrease our high foreign dependence. They will notice this is happening and the price will decrease, since the outlook will be more positive with us being able to have a higher amount of domestic oil. In 1982 and 1983, when gas was very cheap, we imported only 28% of our oi. Now we import at least 60% of our oil.
We definitely need an alternative to oil, which isn't a fossil fuel. In the mean time we should relieve some of the pain at the pump and allow offshore drilling.
I belive US should remove the ban on offshore drilling for several reasons. First of all, the gas prices have recently dropped, apparently JUST by the MENTION of the U.S. considering to resume offshoredrilling. Furthermore, there is an maximum of an estimated 21 billion barrels of oil, and if the U.S removes the ban, we should start offshore drilling and at the same time try to find a conventional energy source (petroleum will run out in about 2050, so these chance of extra oil will give U.S. more time to find a conventional energy source). However, many people are worried about oil spill accidents-not only are they costly, but they also have a major affect on the marine lifeforms. THESE PROBELMS CAN BE ADDRESSED BY BUILDING ARTIFICIAL SHOALS ( man-made sandbanks or sandbars that will protect marine lifeform from oil spills). Therefore, although we may find little or a large reserve of oil, I strongly belive that the U.S. should remove the ban on offshore drilling.
Side: Obama's Right
It's the case of one "Oh Shit!" being worth 1,000 "That a boy!" Do you think the oil industry doesn't care enough to safeguard against such disasters in the future? They care because it's cheaper to put the safeguards in. I mean, when a plane crashes, we don't ban flying.
Absolutely. The US should remove it as soon as possible. I do not understand why people are against lifting the ban. It seems as if proponents of the ban are under the assumption that it's 1000 yards offshore and will have a detrimental impact on the beach environment. Not true. In reality, these platforms are built on the outskirts of the continental shelf - over 30 miles off the coast and are not visible on the shore. So as long as it’s out of sight, why not start drilling? We need to have every opportunity for oil and gas exploration in desolate areas. Congress, what are you waiting for?
Oh and while they're at it, they need to crack open that Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska immediately. I’m not going to lose any sleep if we have to club a few seals so I can fill up my SUV at $3.00 a gallon.
The rosiest of predictions estimate a measly $1.44 drop per barrel by 2027 if we drilled the ANWR.
"Assuming that world oil markets continue to work as they do today, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) could neutralize any potential price impact of ANWR oil production by reducing its oil exports by an equal amount."
Regardless of its effects on gas prices and the economy, lifting restrictions on oil exploration should be cardinal in a free market system. It's just a matter of principle.
Further, the government especially has no right to restrict exploration which would allow us to exploit our own resources instead of spending billions just to be at the mercy of half a dozen Arabs. Just the fact that the moratorium is lifted would, in theory, immediately alleviate the anxiety of speculators who are going wild. It's been estimated that once the oil starts flowing, it would lower gas prices by 50 cents a gallon. Oil won't start flowing for a while, but at the moment there is no reason to not do it, and we will be thankful we did in the future. It may take 10 years, but over 10 years ago drilling in ANWR was filibustered because of the same reason. We could use those 2 million barrels now, and we will need even that and more in the near future.
50 cents off a gallon of gas is not pandering. Even if it were, Obama and his cult have given no rational reason why a moratorium should exist in the first place. It's not an environmental issue. Hell. Other less advanced countries are dilling off the coast of Florida with no problems. China, Vietnam, and others are either drilling or will be drilling in the future off American coast with Cuban leases. If America wants to last it needs considerably more energy independence, and if the Democrats and Republicans in congress want to play self-righteous nonsense games as the average American demands action, energy independence will never happen and oil prices will continue to sky-rocket.
Eek, I made a typo. 50 cents a barrel. Currently that would translate to 3-4 cents at the pump. That's not much, but that's just one rig off one coast. Besides, as always it's a principle of a free market. My main point is that China, India, and other places are going to drill there any way, and there is no convincing reason not to, regardless of how much it will save. Environmental risks are slim, and as mentioned they will be there with or without us.
I also think we should invest in nuclear, wind, and solar too. It will all eventually contribute to both being energy independent, and viable enough without oil to stop fossil fuel consumption all together. Until then, 'it won't help much' is not a legitimate response to 'why not?'
I think much of Obama's following, political ideology aside, is quite irrational and emotionally based. He has become a type of cult head for many, capitulated as "Obamamania", and symbolized in many Soviet-esk posters and paraphernalia. You and I could discuss this somewhere else, but I'd rather keep this to offshore drilling.
Economics alone may dictate this answer. Remove the ban and the price of a gallon of oil will drop by 30% immediately. OPEC will lower the oil cost and flood the market with oil to keep the US and other out of the oil business by making it too expensive.
WE don't have to do it we just say we are doing it!
Side: McCain's Right
While offshore drilling may not solve the energy crisis, it will definately have an impact. Oil prices are all about speculation. Regardless of the fact that it would take 10 years to produce the oil from offshore drilling, just knowing that we are investing in it will drop fuel prices. LOOK AT THE COST NOW! its dropping faster and faster everyday and its all because democrats finally agree that drilling has to happen.
Here's am engineer's answer to your question.
An efficient car engine burns 0.35 pounds / horsepower hour. That's cruising on the highway and not in town traffic. With gasoline weighing 5.9 lb / gal, a gallon is good for 5.9 / 0.35 = 16.86 HP / gal. One HP = 0.746 kW of electricity, so a gallon of gasoline is worth 12.58 kW. At $4.50 / gallon, you get 2.8 kW / dollar, or $0.36 / kW. I pay $0.226 for electricity at 130% to 200% of my baseline; it goes higher from there! However, the charging system to convert AC to DC for the battery is no better than 90% efficient; $0.229 / 0.9 = $0.251 / kW. A battery has losses, also, so let's call it 90% efficient; $0.251 / 0.9 = $0.279 / kW. The motor in the car has, at best, 60% to 80% efficiency; $0.279 / 0.8 = $0.349 / kW. Wow! That's not that much different than gasoline! But wait! according to a PG&E;engineer, the overall thermal efficiency of power delivered to a home from the power plant is 28%. That means it takes 3.6 gallons of fuel to give us one gallon's worth of energy to our home from a fuel-oil powered power plant. WOW! talk about electric cars reducing pollution and using less oil!
I can't argue abotu the inneficiency of the electric grid, but I can remind you that US electricity oesn't come from oil.
According to the Edison Electric Institute...
"48.6 percent of our nation's electricity was generated from coal. Nuclear energy produced 19.4 percent. Natural gas supplied 21.5 percent. Hydropower provided 5.8 percent of the supply. Fuel oil provided 1.6 percent of the generation mix. Other renewable resources, such as geothermal, solar, and wind, provided 2.5 percent, with other miscellaneous sources providing the balance."
As you can see, US electricity isn't generated by oil.
One of the benefits of electric cars, is in shifting the pollution problem from one created by cars and utilities, to one created just by utilities.
Combine this with efforts to do cap and trade carbon credits and the fact that utilities across the nation are moving towards nuclear and renewable energy, and you see that electric cars would certainly help the problem of pollution.
Senator Obama's take:
"Much like his gas-tax gimmick that would leave consumers with pennies in savings, opening our coastlines to offshore drilling would take at least a decade to produce any oil at all, and the effect on gasoline prices would be negligible at best since America only has 3 percent of the world’s oil. It’s another example of short-term political posturing from Washington, not the long-term leadership we need to solve our dependence on oil."
Side: Obama's Right
I don't believe that it would take a decade to produce any oil from offshore drilling. I don't believe that it is short term political posturing from Washington; I believe that it would alleviate (not solve) our dependence on foreign oil. The rest is pretty accurate. I don't expect gas prices to drop.
I did a search a could not find any information on how long it would take to produce oil from offshore drilling. One could reasonably expect, between finding drilling sites and setting up the infrastructure that it would not be any kind of quick and easy process. A decade? Who knows, it anyone can find information on this that would be awesome.
The problem with saying that it'll take a decade to produce an oil is that the argument it was used over 10 years ago when they were debating it then. If we had chosen to allow drilling back then, we would be able to use the oil now and reap the benefits of it now.
I also don't understand why people say gas will only go down by pennies. Wouldn't oil be worth less if we had more of it based on the rules of supply and demand? The speculators will also see that the future of our oil will be better if we can rely less on foreign oil and more on domestic oil, and that will also lower the price of oil.
America has approximately 2.8% of the worlds oil available beneath some of its oceans, areas near Anwar and wells currently operational. On the other hand, Americas consumes 25% of the consumed oil worldwide annually . The numbers tell us that this just isn't a problem we can drill our way out of.
The elepahant in the room is when will a politician get the courage to tell major oil and the auto industry that we must come up with an alternative energy. He should employ the top 10 minds similarly to a Manhattan Project or NASA first trip to space.
We need to be focusing our energies and resources on developing alternative fuel sources, and finding lower-energy-usage ways of doing things. Off-shore drilling would just slightly prolong the inevitable, that being that accessible oil is going to become much more scarce in the coming years. We can lift drilling restrictions, start wars, and generally do whatever it takes to not have to face the fact that our lifestyles will need to change. But all that will leave us with is a more degraded environment and a more violent and unsafe world, and we're still going to run out of oil regardless. I'd honestly rather oil went up to $5 a gallon sooner rather then later; I think that that will be better for the world in the long run then trashing our environment some more so people can afford to drive SUVs for a few extra years.
Side: Obama's Right
I whole-heartedly agree, as the oil prices increase you can already see a dramatic shift in focus on the part of companies like Toyota and GM. Their advertising is beginning to shift and boast their vehicle's fuel efficiency, and the race is already on to produce the most fuel efficient car to meet the demand of consumers.
Removing the ban on offshore drilling does not mean that we should not focusing our energies and resources on developing alternative fuel sources. Removing the ban on offshore drilling should reduce our dependency on foreign oil and reduce the risk of a war for oil. Removing the ban on offshore drilling does not automatically translate into a more degraded environment and a more violent and unsafe world. The cost of gas is not going to go down. Auto companies see the writing on the wall and they are shifting from SUVs to smaller, more energy efficient cars (I wish I could find this article again. I'll post it as soon as I find it again.).
We have developed many alternatives... the only issue we have is in implementing these alternatives. We have the means to produce cars to sell around $17,000, and get 150-200 mpg, but we aren't pushing this out and advocating it. Why not? Because America is stubborn.
We are facing an issue that will not go away, and luckily, Global Warming is becoming more and more noticeable as the years go by... We have a failing economy, climate change, sky rocketing fuel costs, and... people are still not getting it.
Word to America: Stop being a pussy and deal with what you've had coming to you. BE RESPONSIBLE.
I think American citizens should have to carry this burden themselves. I mean, if the people at the top are working so hard (like I said, if), then we should too. Stop using petroleum, and look for a way out. If not for good, do it for the time being and save a few gallons a month for the people that need them by riding a bike or using public transportation... The buses are running whether you're on them or not.
Drilling offshore will only postpone our problems and I think they should be taken care of now (and offshore drilling might produce collateral damage).
I'm 100% for people riding public transportation. It would make my rush hour commute that much better due to reduced traffic.
Banning offshore drilling doesn't translate into green energy overnight. Therefore, allow offshore drilling (while we work on green energy) in order to take the edge off the current situation. Banning offshore drilling is only going to make matters worse.
I don't think that "taking the edge off the situation" is the right approach in the first place. Americans are still buying SUVs and cars with bad gas mileage, and they're still building houses that are several times the size they need to be, even in the face of $4 gas and the impending energy crisis. People are going to keep using up too much of our finite resources, and trying to ignore the fact that our oil usage is not sustainable, until the situation gets really bad. Taking the edge off of it by drilling in a few more places and staving off fuel scarcity for a few more years is only going to enable the continuation of those unsustainable habits for a little longer, when we could be actively trying to move everything over to more sustainable systems before it becomes a major crisis.
And my understanding is that there is no way to extract oil from the ground without causing some environmental damage (with the building and operating of the machinery, etc), and running the risk of oil spills. I was referring to that when I said environmental degradation, I didn't mean that it would utterly destroy everything in an x mile radius or something.
Side: Obama's Right
Just as emptyhands has pointed out, when I said that people should try harder to eliminate this problem, I meant that American's need to change their lifestyles to where they would not need petroleum.
This is why it seems like such a fucked up situation to so many people, because they are forced to change the way they live because of the economy, and let's face it, American's just don't like to change unless it's by free will (which usually doesn't come unless the change makes life easier and yet they still profit).
Are you INSANE...it will not save us pennies at the pump...these drilling sites will not have any effect of the cost of oil for probably 10 years...do no be lead by the nose ring!
Wake up America what you are being asked is to ruin the last frontier...do you not remember oil spills, drainage leakage and what could happen???
what you need to be voting on are more ways to cut gas products down! Get cars that run on water...set yours up to as well. Buy smaller cars...
Southern smiles and world peace,
~The Baby Boomer Queen~
If we always worried about 'what could happen' we wouldn't even be debating this right now because the industrial revolution probably would have never happened.
Oil technology has drastically improved from the 80's.
Also, cars don't run on water. It's impossible. Hydrogen, yes, water, nope. It goes against the laws of physics (thermodynamics i believe).
The whole point of drilling for oil isn't necesarrily to save pennies at the pump. Its just to ensure a reliable supply 'in case shit'. THis is a form of insurance, its in no way supposed to fuly cover domestic demand.
Why do we keep trying to tie our oil reserves to our oil consumption? The facts are that the price of oil is rising because the global demand for oil keeps increasing. Us drilling and potentially jeopardizing our environment for the profit of multi-national oil companies doesn't make any sense. You can't honestly believe that because we own the reserves we're going to see much benefit from it. Those oil companies are going to sell it to whoever is going to pay the highest price, which means we have gained nothing at the pump by drilling in our water. It will help certain states generate more taxes but if an oil spill happens that jeopardizes the whole coast and potentially many more people. It's just not worth the risk regardless of how much they say they've changed, right now. On top of that, think of all of the money we'd have to spend just to regulate and enforce the restrictions that would protect us from these accidents.
I'm with Obama, invest that money into alternative fuels and renewable energy sources. That strategy is in the best interest of everyone in the nation. McCain's is the same thing he's just choosing to pander to a couple of states along the way...not a good sign of someone we should elect as the leader IMO.
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