Saturday, July 23, 2005

Pensa-oily Beach?

The Associated Press is reporting today that both liberal and conservative heavyweights in Florida's congressional delegation have combined to oppose White House attempts to open the Gulf of Mexico to drilling south of Pensacola Beach.
Florida's two U.S. senators criticized the White House on Friday for trying to open new waters in the Gulf of Mexico off Florida to oil and natural gas drilling.
* * *
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said the administration proposal would violate a moratorium on drilling in the Eastern Gulf by giving control of some Florida waters to Louisiana, a state that supports offshore drilling.

"As I have stated repeatedly -- the administration is hell-bent on drilling off Florida," Nelson said in a news release.

Nelson and other Florida politicians have opposed lifting the moratorium because they are afraid drilling accidents could damage beaches vital to Florida's environment and $50 billion tourism industry.
The "other" politicians, as the Orlando Sentinel points out, span the ideological spectrum from ultra-consrvatives Sen. Mel Martinez and Rep. Clay Shaw (R-Fort Lauderdale) to liberal Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Miramar).

Those who pay attention to such things will recall that in the first term of the Bush Administration, after public demonstrations in Pensasola and around the state, the president agreed to impose an "administrative moratorium" on drilling off Florida's Gulf coast. Then, he convinced Congress that there was no need to pass a statute banning drilling off the Florida Gulf coast.

As it turns out, it seems he was deceiving everybody. What normal people view as "off Florida's Gulf coast" the White House now claims is Louisiana territory!
The administration proposal is based on a "seaward lateral boundary" extending in a southeast direction from the Louisiana-Mississippi line toward the southern tip of Florida's peninsula. It would give Louisiana control over some waters more than 100 miles south of the Florida Panhandle.

[Senator Bill] Nelson spokesman Dan McLaughlin said that would violate the moratorium by opening areas east of the Florida-Alabama state line.

Michele St. Martin, a spokeswoman for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which advanced the new drilling plan, said areas of the Eastern Gulf belonging to Louisiana under seaward lateral boundaries are exempt from the moratorium.

She said the Florida-Alabama line is an artificial boundary that "exists for planning purposes but it is not a legal boundary."
In plain English, as the Orlando Sentinel explains, the White House has decided "to put some key tracts -- including sites about 100 miles from Pensacola and 138 miles from Panama City -- in the jurisdiction of Louisiana, which wants to give drilling rights to oil and gas companies."

So, under President Bush's much-ballyhooed drilling "moratorium" any time the White House wants to let Dick Cheney's oil company buddies start washing globs of crude onto the shores of Pensacola Beach, all it has to do is re-define the waters south of Pensacola Beach and call it "Louisiana."

It's positively Orwellian, as Matthew Brophy and Jacob Levich, among many others, have pointed out. "War is peace.... Freedom is slavery.... Ignorance is strength...."

...and Florida is Louisiana.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is amazing what Politicians will do to get their way! I am totally against off shore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Pensacola has beautiful beaches, wildlife preserves, and a very profitable tourist season. If Dick Cheney lets his buddies come in and start drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, they will destroy our beaches by dumping globs of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico so it can wash up on our beaches later. And what about the $50 billion Florida earns from the tourist industry every year? Tourist won’t come to our beaches if their covered in globs of crude oil and has dead animals covered in oil scattered across it. Just because they renamed part of the Gulf of Mexico “Louisiana“ territory does not mean it is not going to destroy Florida’s beaches. Meanwhile, if they do start drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the globs of oil they dump into our waters that will later wash up on our beaches and cover our animals with oil will just be the start. All that oil and natural gas they will be getting out of the Gulf of Mexico will fill up cars, trucks, and gas-guzzling SUV’s so they can pollute the earth even more from their tailpipes. Statistics say at the rate we are going now, we will run out of oil in 10 years. So why are we fighting for the oil in the Gulf of Mexico? Shouldn’t we being trying to solve the problem of running out of oil before it happens? We are also supposed to be protecting our environment. So we should forget about the oil in the Gulf of Mexico and start enforcing the sale of Hybrids. That way we can not destroy Florida’s beaches and we can not pollute the Earth as bad with our tailpipes.

tammyjo said...

It is amazing what Politicians will do to get their way! I am totally against off shore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Pensacola has beautiful beaches, wildlife preserves, and a very profitable tourist season. If Dick Cheney lets his buddies come in and start drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, they will destroy our beaches by dumping globs of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico so it can wash up on our beaches later. And what about the $50 billion Florida earns from the tourist industry every year? Tourist won’t come to our beaches if their covered in globs of crude oil and has dead animals covered in oil scattered across it. Just because they renamed part of the Gulf of Mexico “Louisiana“ territory does not mean it is not going to destroy Florida’s beaches. Meanwhile, if they do start drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the globs of oil they dump into our waters that will later wash up on our beaches and cover our animals with oil will just be the start. All that oil and natural gas they will be getting out of the Gulf of Mexico will fill up cars, trucks, and gas-guzzling SUV’s so they can pollute the earth even more from their tailpipes. Statistics say at the rate we are going now, we will run out of oil in 10 years. So why are we fighting for the oil in the Gulf of Mexico? Shouldn’t we being trying to solve the problem of running out of oil before it happens? We are also supposed to be protecting our environment. So we should forget about the oil in the Gulf of Mexico and start enforcing the sale of Hybrids. That way we can not destroy Florida’s beaches and we can not pollute the Earth as bad with our tailpipes.

Cathy said...

There is no doubt that this will remain a hotly debated topic for quite some time. The bottom line is that we have to find a way to produce fuel and protect wildlife. As long as we keep talking badly about each other, the lines of communication between us will continue to be strained. When we stop throwing dirt (verbally) at one another and start discussing the problems, maybe then we could come together and make some progress toward to solution. I don't believe that Vice President Cheney wants to hurt the environment. I believe he is exploring possible solutions. Tourism is important to Florida. Our beaches are vitally important, as is the wildlife that call the Gulf Coast home. By focusing on the issues, we may be able to find some common ground where there is a win-win situation.

tammyjo said...

Very well put. You are right about us spending time trashing each other than working on a mutual agreement. We need to stop dragging our feet and work something out so we can all benefit from the outcome, whatever it may be. It is just hard not to get emotionally involved or even get upset when you think about what could happen to our beaches. The same when I think about the drilling they want to do in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.

vince said...

I agree with the majority of what "tammyjo" and "greatful mom" say, however, I disagree with "greatful mom" when you say that "The bottom line is that we have to find a way to produce fuel..." More fuel is bringing us in the wrong direction. Our country needs to stop spending so much money on fuel and start spending it on hydrogen-fueled vehicles, recycling, and solar power. Another point I disagree on with "greatful mom" is that Dick Cheney doesn't want to hurt the environment. I honestly don't believe that our president or vice president care about the environment. Sadly the only thing that our government and the people who run it care about is money. And since drilling off the coast of Florida is going to make these "higher-ups" more money, I predict oil rigs to be off the coast of Florida very soon.
The only way to stop them is to speak out against the drilling. Sadly most Floridians are ignorant to this issue, therefore we must let them know, for there's power in numbers.

tammyjo said...

I agree with you Vince. We don’t need to spend more time and more money drilling for fuel so we can pollute the planet more. We need to spend the money and time researching hydrogen-fueled vehicles. If we continue to use fuel at the rate we are now, we will run out in 10 years anyway. It would be ridiculous if we waited to run out and then sat around scratching our heads trying to figure out what to do. We need to start planning now. If we recycle, use solar power, conserve water, and drive hybrids we would be doing the Earth and ourselves a favor. Besides, at the rate gas prices are moving up now, a hybrid would pay itself off in now time. I also know that our administration doesn’t give squat about our environment, they think money is what makes the world go-round. But eventually, money won’t be able to fix the mess our administration is going to make. But they are our elected officials, and we do have speak up and let them know that we want to protect the environment and that we are against offshore drilling.

Jessica Nelson said...

Florida beaches seem to be a huge concern right now to a lot of us. Of course we are concerned about what happens to our beaches and water. I see both sides to every story, but I can not see drilling for oil if it is going to hurt our beaches even more than they are already hurting. Once again it does not make sense. It is really going to be interesting to see what happens and if the environment will be able to handle it!

ABahr said...

I am absolutely against any offshore drilling in the Gulf, south of Pensacola. The Pensacola Beach area has some of the most beautiful beaches in the entire world! At least, in my opinion, and I have traveled quite a bit in my short 20 years of life. Florida's primary money-making source is from the tourists, or snowbirds, that frequent our beaches. What would Florida due is an oil spill occurred? Our sparkling white sand beaches would be ruined. That sort of environmental catastrophe would destroy and probably drive into extinction several species of marine life. We wouldn't have to worry about trying to save the manatees because there would be none left to save. Don't the local residents get a say in what happens to their beach? We pay taxes to have our beaches looking beautiful and I for one don't want to run the risk of having it destroyed. Our area has been frequented recently by unusually strong hurricanes the last couple years. Such immense storms could damage the pipelines or the offshore reservoir used to store the oil before transport. Not only does the Gulf Coast need to worry about human error in oil transport and mechanical failure due to the corrosion of the saltwater, but also a massive hurricane damaging the drill site and the million dollar machinery to the point where oil is spilled into the Gulf. The winds and waves created by the storm would be dispersing the oil at an incredible rate. And, just to make things worse, cleanup could not commence until the Gulf was calm enough to traverse safely. By then, the spill would be so great any hope of saving affected marine life would be entirely lost. The local fishing economy would crash, thousands of plants and animals would die, tourism would discontinue, and the natural beauty of Florida would become scarred by the effects of an oil spill for many years after the cleanup was completed. Like I said before, I for one am not willing to gamble such a loss so some self-serving oil company can make money.

ABahr said...

I agree with you too vince. The money that would be spent installing and operating an offshore oil rig could be better used funding research and development of alternate sources of power. The sun's rays are practically eternal. I can't even imagine how much energy would be produced by harnessing the sun's rays from just one day of bright sunlight. Hybrids are extremely efficient as well. I have a friend who owns a hybrid and has to get gas once every 6 weeks. He says his Insight gets about 72 miles to the gallon. That's amazing!

NatalieT said...

I agree with Vince and ABahr. I know there are more people in the world today then there was ten years ago making for a bigger demand for resources but I don't think drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is the answer. ABahr makes a good point about hurrican winds and waves damaging pipeline, reservirs and machinery. Instead of sinking millions of dollars into a project like this, the money should be spent on solar power and making sure car makers produce more hybrid vecicles. With gas prices steadly rising and no decrese in sight, I've decided to look into a hybrid as my next vehicle.

tammyjo said...

I agree with you, Nataliet. I've been looking at some of the hybrids. The civic hybrid is really nice. Did you know you can get 650 miles on one tank of gas? Also, if you own a hybrid, you're eligible for a federal tax deduction. Hybrids are cheaper, more efficient, and put off less pollution. So, what's the debate? Why is drilling of the coast still an option when we have hybrids?

Teresa said...

I think you all bring up very good points. But if change is to occur, it will have to be a slow process, considering the point that we’re at. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I would be highly supportive of the oil companies drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, but as Grateful Mom put it, “by focusing on the issues, we may be able to find some common ground where there is a win-win situation.”

I think discussing the issues on all sides, is always a good thing. However, I’d have to say that I’m on the environmentalists side. I think we need to protect the land, our beautiful beaches, and the creatures that live there. Ocean drilling and even just testing, through seismic surveys, is harmful to sea life, included the sea turtle and the sperm whale, both on the endangered species list.

Tammyjo mentioned the highly debated Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to many animals such as the polar bear, caribou, and various bird species that would be put at risk. According to information gathered from pbs.org, this “land was placed under federal protection by President Eisenhower in 1960.” Apparently, though 45 years later, this land is rich in natural resources; however, this land is also a sanctuary for wildlife that needs protection. The safety of the environment and those in it seems to be forgotten, when too much focus is put on whether or not we will have access to foreign oil in the future.

Vince brought up some good ideas that I agree with: hydrogen-fueled vehicles, recycling, and solar power. And from what Abahr mentioned about having to get gas only once every six weeks compared to once a week or once every week and a half, that sounds so much better. I think I’d be interested in a hybrid myself.

tammyjo said...

I understand what you are saying Teresa. They are focusing to much on future supply of foreign oil and increasing gas prices. But that doesn't mean we can go drill in the National Artic Wildlife Refugee after WE placed it under federal protection.

Teresa said...

Yes, it is very sad isn't it? We placed it under protection and now we are going to destroy it ourselves. It's amazing what some will do without thinking of the consequences first. I strongly believe that there are solutions and other options. We really need to do something to protect and preserve these areas and the creatures living there or else (as abahr brought up with the manatees) there will be nothing left to save.

_bsjones said...

Let's make it clear that there are many recurring themes regarding fear mongering regarding the supply of any natural resource. Let's also make it clear that said fear mongering enables people in control of the natural resource to have stronger control over its price or promote another, even more expensive, alternative natural resource. This is not to imply that oil scarcity in the foreseeable future is a pipedream, but rather to clarify that the problem with drilling has almost nothing to do with oil supply or the environment. It’s not that we need oil, necessarily. But the need for oil has been created. So yes, I agree that the solution is to wean ourselves from oil.

But I also realize that this is a change that requires a lot more than any single technology can produce. Hybrid cars are great, but they’re essentially the first step of a new evolution for the same oil-dependent technologies we’ve grown accustomed to over the past century and a half. Despite the newfound efficiency of the internal combustion engine, it doesn’t make any significant long-term difference. (And on that note, anyone who has ever driven a well-maintained Geo Metro for an extended period of time realizes that the Insight isn’t all that impressive).

Some would like to bring up the lovely idea of the “hydrogen economy.” Superficially, it’s a great idea. I mean, two out of every three atoms in bucket of distilled water is hydrogen, right? We’ve got tons of water. Yet electrolysis, the means by which water is separated into hydrogen and oxygen, is not only an expensive process but very energy intensive, as well. And of course, the most efficient source of energy available to us today is all but dead because of misinterpretation of the dangers. I’m talking about nuclear energy, by the way, and if you’re curious, just find out how much radioactive material is freed by even the most modern coal-fired generators. And if you go with oil or natural gas, well, you’re just playing back into the hands of the same companies you were trying to avoid. Furthermore, the most common source of hydrogen to date is the refining of everybody’s favorite hydrocarbons: oil and natural gas. Is there a net gain of energy by refining hydrocarbons into hydrogen fuel? Certainly not. Is it more efficient than refining it into gasoline or any number of other petroleum products? For now and the foreseeable future, no.

So, where does this leave us? Still under the influence of oil and those who control it, I’d imagine. There are technologies out there that have potential, but compromises will have to be made in order to make them viable. Society can’t stop for one person’s needs, but that doesn’t give it the right to trample on people’s rights. Everybody has to be willing to give up something or maybe pause, for a moment, and realize what crusades are worth fighting and what others will just result in a lot of heartbreak. We don’t have the answer, yet, but the answer needs to be something we’re willing to find. Perhaps, more importantly, we have to be ready to accept the solution when it finally makes itself apparent.

vince said...

Teresa mentions that it must be a slow process and that we must meet in the middle. I couldn't disagree more. Remember we are dealing with oil drills being put off our coast, not in a few decades, but now, and also remember that at our current rate of consumption we will be out of gas in ten years. I guess I just don't understand what the process needs to be slow.
Bsjones states "It’s not that we need oil, necessarily. But the need for oil has been created." So we do or don't need oil? And also bsjones mentions that "this is a change that requires a lot more than any single technology can produce."
First of all hybrid vehicles are not the only technology that have been invented for the betterment of our environment. Think of the solar pads that you see throughout campus, or the recycle bins that are popping up more and more, or the hydrogen-fueled vehicles, which is yet another argument I have for bsjones.
Bsjones says something to the effect of, we don't have the capabilities of separating water to make hydrogen-fueled cars run. Well bsjones obviously hasn't done his research on a hydrogen-fueled economy, because electrolysis is not even involved in this futuristic economy. The hydrogen comes from steam reforming. Vaporized fossil fuels mix with steam, which extracts hydrogen and nothing but water comes out of the tail pipe. So I am still not convinced that there is the slightest reason why we should be drilling off the coast of Florida, or the slightest reason why we should not contribute greater amounts to producing these new-age technologies.