Don't Know The Drill

I like John McCain, but when he says things like this, I think of him as TCIGSFP (The Candidate I Grudgingly Support For President). Perhaps he'd consider looking at this map to see that no one is talking about despoiling the Arctic. ANWR is a 19 million acre (larger than 10 states!) park on the Northeast coast of Alaska. People are proposing to explore 8% of the coastal plain, with eventual development affecting only 2000 acres (that's roughly the size of Dulles airport). More than 90% of the land would remain utterly untouched.

Something I didn't realize is that the region we're talking about isn't uninhabited. The native people who live there desperately want this development, so they'll have jobs and be able to maintain their way of life. They offer Ten Reasons To Support Development In ANWR, including #8, no negative impact on animals.

VDH says: Do The Right Thing: Start Drilling, beginning his commentary with a tale of two gas stations. On the poor side of town he finds people in used cars, lacking money for brand new hybrids, spending one or two days' wages on their commutes to work. On the right side of the tracks, no one was much worried about the price of gas -- in fact they're happy higher gas prices are forcing fuel economy. They've grown comfy in the assumption that Republicans want to drill to enrich oil companies, while the virtuous want to save the environment. He enumerates the paradoxes:
  • the burden of our energy policy falls on the poor and middle class
  • just because we don't drill doesn't mean others don't.
    By locking out energy exploration in the United States, we are encouraging it almost everywhere else.
    When you put it that way, it does seem a bit rich to have the attitude that others must despoil their pristine places but we won't --and then we demand they must sell to us at prices we like. (May I add: Russia, Mexico, Cuba & Venezuela all drill right off our shores --and none of those countries is famed for its attention to safety and environmental concerns. By not drilling ourselves, we're still putting our own environment at risk).
  • Worried about justice and exploitation of workers?
    Look at who's helped by these massive energy transfers: Productive energy-strapped Americans, Europeans, Japanese, Chinese and Indians are working day and night to give the world critical material goods, ideas and services. To be blunt, oil-rich Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia and Iran are not.

    At best, the massive transfer of national wealth to most oil producers translates into a Chinese worker on an assembly line working longer for less money while artificial island resorts pop up in the Persian Gulf. At worst, that strapped Chinese fabricator is also working harder for another Iranian centrifuge, al Qaeda landmine or Saudi-funded madrassa.

  • Alternative energy? By all means. But we're not there yet, and drilling domestically would be a smart intermittent step until we are. It's certainly decadent to starve the world's poor with our ill-thought-out ethanol disaster. (Congress to poor people: You must starve so we won't have to touch ANWR. Hmm. Why do they hate us?)
Daniel Henninger sees not human rights and environmental issues, but a defense matter. In Drill! Drill! Drill! he argues we're turning the world over to bad guys.

We live in a world in which Russia's Vladimir Putin and Venezuela's Hugo Chávez use their vast oil and gas reserves as instruments of state power. Here, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid use their control of Congress to spend a week debating a "climate-change" bill. This they did fresh off their subsidized (and bipartisan) ethanol fiasco.

One may assume that Mr. Putin and the Chinese have noticed the policy obsessions of our political class. While other nations use their oil reserves to attain world status, we give ours up. Why shouldn't they conclude that, long term, these people can be taken? Nikita Khrushchev said, "We will bury you." Forget that. We'll do it ourselves.

Putin intimidates Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltic states and Poland with oil and gas cutoffs, while Chávez uses petrodollars to bankroll Colombian terrorists. Cuba plans to exploit its Caribbean oil fields within a long tee shot of the Florida Keys with help from India, Spain, Venezuela, Canada, Norway, Malaysia, even Vietnam. But America won't drill. [snip]

You'd think the "national security" nominee, John McCain, would get this. He's clueless – a don't-drill zombie. We may mark this down as the year the U.S. tired of being a serious country.
(Don't get me started on oil-for-spoils, an actual instance of someone lying and people dying. Talk about your blood for oil. What if France & China could buy oil from us and not Iraq & Iran?)

While we're talking energy policy, a little defense of our domestic oil companies. First, government scapegoating, including McCain's, makes no economic sense. Powerline published an enlightening chart awhile back (click to enlarge): 94% of the world's oil is state-owned. If we refuse to produce our own oil, clearly our domestic oil companies aren't in control of the price of energy.

Human rights, the environment, national defense, and finally: politics. If McCain used the high cost of gas as an excuse to "evolve" according to changing circumstances (we know he is too honorable to change his mind), it would be a winning issue for him. Did you know some 700,000 have signed a petition to Congress?

Alas, as Rich Lowry writes, he --much like Obama-- is exactly wrong on energy policy, both candidates taking the attitude toward the poor of our own country and the world:
Let them eat airy abstractions.
Pop quiz. Who said this?
That part of ANWR is one of the bleakest, most remote places on this continent, and there is hardly any other where drilling would have less impact on the surrounding life.
Did you guess WaPo, in a 1987 editorial? And ANWR is the least if it. As Mr. Henninger points out, there's also:
  • California won't drill for the estimated 1.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil off its coast because of bad memories of the Santa Barbara oil spill – in 1969.
  • Our waters may hold 60 trillion untapped cubic feet of natural gas. As in Brazil, these are surely conservative estimates.
Plus, a couple of months ago people found
  • a massive oil field in the Dakotas --found in the sense that we now think we can recover it.
  • And there's more oil in the Rocky Mountains than in Saudia Arabia, according to that bastion of right-wing nut-ism, npr.