Tag Archive: offshore drilling

Oil Spill Updates

I think it’s safe to say that those who were skeptical of the plan to allow drilling off the East Coast (as far north as Delaware) have not changed their opinions in the last week.  Here’s an amazing NASA photo of the Lousiana oil spill:

Lousiana Oil Spill

For a sense of scale, I believe that the New Orleans is about as far from Mobile as Atlantic City is from New York City or Maryland (much less Delaware.) (Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.)

Representative Pallone says the offshore drilling plan should be abandoned:

“The spill has grown to cover an area the size of Rhode Island and could reach the shore within days.  Those who used to chant ‘drill baby drill’ have been conspicuously silent now as the oil spill  makes its way to the shores of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida…

   “I am adamantly opposed to this recently announced plan that will open up broad areas of the Atlantic from Delaware to Florida for exploration and potential oil and gas drilling.  An oil spill anywhere along the coast could cause severe environmental damage to fisheries, popular beaches and wildlife.  Drilling off the coast of nearby states still poses a threat to New Jersey – the ocean waters don’t respect state borders and neither would spilled oil.

Senators Menendez and Lautenberg requested a hearing on the oil spill tragedy yesterday and today Menendez wrote the U.S. Minerals Management Service asking them to complete their proposed new safety rules:

“Until the investigation is complete we have no way of knowing whether this rule could have prevented the tragedy at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, but if this rule can make oil rig operations safer then we should finalize the rule as soon as possible,” wrote Menendez. “I understand BP and other major oil operators have opposed this rulemaking, but given the current tragedy unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico it seems clear that tighter safety procedures are in order…. Such a system will never eliminate the risks of another offshore oil spill, but it is time to finalize this rule and make it as safe as we can for now.”

Adler vs. Runyan vs. Obama

President Obama’s decision to support oil drilling off the East Coast, but only south of New Jersey, has certainly mixed things up in the third district. Jon Runyan is praising Obama’s decision:

“President Obama’s plan to lift the moratorium on offshore drilling is a step in the right direction for reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, creating jobs and bringing down the cost of energy on overburdened consumers,” said Runyan

The rest of the statement is looks positive and statesman-like at first glance but doesn’t stand up to close reading. He invokes “state’s rights” — presumably both because it sounds conservative and lets him exclude Jersey, but it’s complete nonsense since the Feds have long controlled offshore drilling. He also praises alternative energy, but look at his list:

“part of a long-term energy strategy that will help fund a more rapid transition to alternative energies like wind, solar, nuclear, clean coal and shale oil from the Western Rockies.”

Well, you know all about “clean coal”, but what about “shale oil?” Well, it’s not from the Middle East, but otherwise it’ll be expensive and an environmental disaster.  Runyan is trying to sound environmentally positive while really having the opposite message.  

Meanwhile, John Adler has  come out against the plan. Well, sort of. That’s the headline but the statement is not so clear:

“I support expanding domestic oil production, but not off New Jersey’s shores,” the congressman said in response to Obama’s decision to lift the drilling moratorium on the mid-Atlantic coast.  

“New Jersey Democrats and Republicans have consistently opposed drilling off the New Jersey coast,” Adler added. “New Jersey beaches are critical to our state’s economic prosperity. We need to expand our efforts to lower gas prices and reduce American dependency on foreign oil, and we should focus on expanding drilling in the areas where we know resources are available.”

Of course, Obama would say he does not include “off New Jersey’s shores” in the plan, and the nearest drilling is in Virginia when there “are resources available,” so at the end of the day what is really going on? Whatever headlines are attached, we still have bipartisan opposition to drilling here, but drilling far enough away is okay.

I think the main lesson is that Runyan supports expanding greenhouse gas emissions from the dirtiest possible sources. He’ll call that “alternative energy.” Now we know that if he ran Disney, he’d call the Jonas Brothers “alternative rock.”

New Jersey Reactions to Offshore Drilling: “Kill, Baby, Kill”

The Obama Administration’s reversal on offshore drilling is starting to get New Jersey reactions and Representative Frank Pallone and Senator Frank Lautenberg stand by their earlier opposition:

“Drilling off the Virginia coast would endanger many of New Jersey’s beaches and vibrant coastal economies,” stated Lautenberg.  “Giving Big Oil more access to our nation’s waters is really a Kill, Baby, Kill policy: it threatens to kill jobs, kill marine life and kill coastal economies that generate billions of dollars.  Offshore drilling isn’t the solution to our energy problems, and I will fight this policy and continue to push for 21st century clean energy solutions.”

(His emphasis). Pallone says he will fight:

“Oil drills off the coast of nearby states still pose a threat to New Jersey. The ocean waters don’t respect state borders and neither would spilled oil. Any drilling off the coast of Delaware would be close enough to New Jersey for spills to easily reach our beaches. We shouldn’t jeopardize the environment or the regional economy for the sake of more oil. We need an energy policy that is far sighted, that is safe for the environment and good for the economy.

   “I have fought for years to prevent any and all offshore drilling along the Eastern Coast and it’s a fight I’m going to continue. I am the sponsor of legislation – the Clean Ocean & Safe Tourism Anti-Drilling Act, or COAST bill – that would permanently ban drilling in all North- and Mid-Atlantic states from Maine to Virginia.  It would prohibit the Department of the Interior from issuing leases for exploration, development, or production of oil, natural gas and any other minerals in the area.

   “I am opposed to any preliminary activities or studies that could lead to exploration or drilling. None of these activities was allowed under the moratorium that was in place by executive order until President Bush lifted it during the final months of his administration. I believe President Obama should reinstate the moratorium.

Rush Holt:

“Opening new areas of the Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas exploration is dangerous for New Jersey’s economy and a step backwards for our nation’s energy and environmental policies.  As I told Secretary Salazar when he hosted a public meeting here one year ago, deepening our dependence on fossil fuels does not contribute to our energy security.  We need to focus our efforts on developing sustainable sources of energy – such as wind, waves, and water currents – that do not unnecessarily threaten our coastal communities.”

Bob Menendez and Chris Christie also oppose the new plan. I have not seen a new statement by Lobiondo or Adler, who represent southern shore areas, though Lobiondo has long opposed drilling off New Jersey.

For me, the best one can say is that Obama’s position gives offshore drilling to the South and Alaska, where the public, Republicans and the local Democrats largely support it. But evidently oil companies want to get as close to Cape May as possible.

Alternatively, Obama actually said:  

“…this announcement is part of a broader strategy…”

“Some of the press may be wondering why we are announcing offshore drilling in a hangar at Andrews Air Force Base…. this Navy fighter jet — appropriately called the Green Hornet — will be flown for the first time in just a few days, on Earth Day. If tests go as planned, it will be the first plane ever to fly faster than the speed of sound on a fuel mix that is half biomass”

Our unlimited military build-up will run on “half biomass.” That certainly makes this a comprehensive strategy to “move beyond the tired debates of the left and the right.”

Update: Here is video of Menendez explaining to the The Star-Ledger editorial board why he opposes this policy.

Here comes the offshore drilling

The New York Times previews a Wednesday announcement on offshore drilling from the Obama Administration:

The proposal – a compromise that will please oil companies and domestic drilling advocates but anger some residents of affected states and many environmental organizations – would end a longstanding moratorium on oil exploration along the East Coast from the northern tip of Delaware to the central coast of Florida, covering 167 million acres of ocean.

Offshore New Jersey — for now — is still in the protected area but drilling may be quite close south of us.  One can presume this action means the oil industry will get New Jersey as soon as they want it.

Obama Administration officials seem to think this will help get support from Republicans for a climate bill. The bill seems to consist almost entirely of Republican initiatives with a removal of the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon, so perhaps they are right. The Times also notes “the sheer breadth of the offshore drilling  decision will take some of his supporters aback” which is certainly true. I wonder why our Democrats would vote for this bill, I guess they’ll explain sometime.

We can now presume that Obama is moving forward with plans to privatize Social Security and enact the rest of the Republican agenda. I’m kidding, but only a little.

In any case, the Virigina offshore drilling should come soon and the rest is many years away, if it ever happens.    

Saxton disgraces himself as New Jersey Representatives Vote on Energy Bill

I can respect all the votes on H.R. 6899, the Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act, a bill passed last night in the House mainly by Democrats. It funds renewable energy but also allows limited offshore oil drilling. New Jersey Republicans Frank LoBiondo and Chris Smith (and 13 other Republicans) joined Rob Andrews, Albio Sires and 219 other Democrats to pass the bill, while Democrats Rush Holt, Frank Pallone, Bill Pascrell, Steve Rothman and Donald Payne (and 8 other Democrats) joined Saxton, Garrett, Frelinghuysen, Ferguson and 172 other Republicans in opposing it. People of good will can disagree on whether it’s best to accept or reject this compromise.  

What I can’t respect is the attempt to disrupt Congress and prevent passage of a bill by calling for motions to adjourn.  Only a few Republicans supported this absurd proposal, but New Jersey’s very own Jim Saxton must be looking forward to a permanent vacation as he actually voted to adjourn at noon. This is starting to look like a habit for the lame duck Representative.

Getting Beyond the Hysteria

Herb Jackson has a good article on why we aren’t drilling offshore.  The upshot of it is this:

The specter of an oil spill ruining New Jersey beaches is keeping state officials from even considering the potential benefits of what could be vast supplies of natural gas discovered nearly three decades ago about 90 miles off Atlantic City

Regardless of what one thinks of drilling, any discussion should start with a realistic assessment any such risk.  And, of course, part of the assessment of that risk has to be a comparative risk of not drilling, but continuing to carry raw petroleum stocks to our refineries by other means.  The two major methods of delivery are pipeline and tanker ship.

Offshore oil drilling

Senator Bob Menendez continues to fight off-shore oil drilling:

“If there ever was evidence that Big Oil doesn’t need any more federal handouts, the parade of astronomical oil company profit reports that began today is it. On one extreme you have American families getting absolutely slammed by gas prices. On the other extreme you have the oil companies counting their money, sitting on 68 million unused acres and asking for even more land to put on their books. There is no way to justify giving yet another handout to these companies, especially when they are focusing far more on stock buybacks than the type of exploration and innovation that will help lower energy costs for American families.

“The oil men in the White House and their party are trying to pull a fast one on the American people by selling a plan that has a lot more to do with oil company stock prices than gas prices. For far too long, our government has held the oil companies’ hands rather than holding them accountable. American families are getting squeezed, and they deserve a government that works for them, not for Big Oil.”

Menendez last week pointed out Republicans lie when they say there were no oil spills from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  

“In 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused devastation on a massive scale. The Environmental Protection Agency, the US Minerals Management Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Coast Guard all agree that the storms caused 700,000 gallons of oil to spill into the Gulf of Mexico and over 7 million gallons of oil to leak onshore from the infrastructure that supports offshore drilling….

“An oil spill off the coast of Virginia could wash up as far away as Maine. It could devastate the coastline from South Carolina to New York. New Jersey families and businesses can’t afford the risk of a disaster on the scale of the Exxon Valdez crash or the spills after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, with sticky crude washing up on our beaches, killing our wildlife, collapsing property values and destroying our economy in the process.

Fate seems to be taking a hand here as well.  Senator John McCain planned to literally campaign on a Lousiana oil rig later this week.  

The appearance has been canceled due to a hurricane and a nearby oil spill.    

Wyka: Drilling Offshore Won’t Reduce Gas Prices Anytime Soon

By Tom Wyka, Democratic Candidate for Congress, New Jersey District 11 

www.tomwyka.com

On Monday, July 14, President George W. Bush lifted his father’s ban on drilling for oil and gas off the East and West Coast and in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. But before anyone can drill there, Congress would have to lift its own ban. The President said that “Now the ball is squarely in Congress’s Court.” However, the President knows full well that lifting this ban will do nothing to solve our current problems. The Energy Information Administration estimates that drilling in those areas won’t affect oil production and thus oil prices before the year 2030. In addition, oil companies already have 68 million acres under government leases that they can currently drill, and exploration ships are booked solid for the next five years.

We got a wakeup call about oil back in 1973, with the Arab Oil Embargo. We hit the snooze alarm again after the 1979 energy crisis. Starting in late 1978, a strike in the Iranian oilfields nearly shut off Iran’s oil production. Although other OPEC countries increased their production, the world’s output of oil decreased by about 4% in the short run. I remember the resulting gasoline shortages very clearly. I was a young teenager then, and I made some money selling newspapers at the end of my block to the people waiting in line for gasoline, at a station about half a mile away. We knew then that even a small decrease in oil supply could cause major problems. Yet what is our government doing while our gasoline prices are soaring? President Bush and our current incumbent Congressman, Rodney Frelinghuysen, opposed efforts to shift tax incentives from big oil companies to efficiency and clean energy technologies, such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. If alternatives are the future, why propose an oil-based solution that will not show any results for years?

Since the beginning of the oil business, the “problem” that the oil companies nearly always faced was overproduction. The big oil fields were discovered early, and it was all too easy to pump too much of that oil too fast. The resulting “oil gluts” would drop prices very low. But conditions have changed recently. There’s still lots of oil, but what’s left is harder and more expensive to produce. As a result, oil production hasn’t increased lately, despite the record prices. And it’s likely production levels can’t increase. Even Saudi Arabia might be able to produce only 10.4 million barrels per day on a sustained basis, and might not be able to produce more than 12 million barrels per day in emergencies. This is far less than recent optimistic estimates. When you combine stagnant supplies with rising world demand, you get today’s skyrocketing prices.

Currently, the rise in gasoline prices is causing real hardship for people throughout the country. We need Congress to do something that will make a difference now. For example, the American Trucking Associations want the national speed limit to be reduced to 65 mph. We also need more funding for public transit, which is having a huge growth in ridership. We also need to plan for the future. Back in 2006, I called for a new “Manhattan Project”—but this time to develop ways to conserve energy and harness alternative sources of energy. During his last few terms in office, your current Congressman has been too busy supporting the Bush administration and the oil industry’s profit margins to do much about these issues. Don’t you think it’s time for a change?

For further information:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/legislative/sap/110-1/hr6sap-s_2.pdf

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/06/offshore_drilling.html

http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/otheranalysis/ongr.html

http://www.arabianbusiness.com/524632-12m-barrels-per-day-is-saudi-oil-limit

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7506346.stm

http://www.truckline.com/NR/exeres/E002129C-7BD1-4480-8603-A70538EFD74D.htm

http://www.lightrailnow.org/

 

Evening Campaign Roundup

There was alot of campaign related news today, so I decided to do an evening roundup.

Responding to the Bush/McCain proposal to repeal a drilling moratorium that has been in place since 1982, Governor Corzine joined Senators Lautenberg and Menedez along with Congressman Pallone to call for a permanent ban on offshore drilling…

Pallone, Lautenberg and Menendez’s legislation would prohibit the U.S. Department of Interior from issuing leases for exploration, development or production of oil, natural gas or any other mineral from Maine to North Carolina.

In NJ-5, Dennis Shulman issued a statement this afternoon opposing the FISA Legislation…

The President, his advisers, and his rubber stamps in Congress, including Scott Garrett, have demonstrated a pattern of disregard for the laws of the United States. This bill not only immunizes telecom companies from lawsuits, but it would also block the American people from ever knowing the full extent of the Bush Administration’s illegal behavior.

I urge my fellow Democrats in the Senate to vote against this unnecessary and deeply troubling law.  I believe that Congress must protect the rights of citizens and the laws of our country from career politicians in Washington too willing to cave to special interests and endanger the fundamental rights that we, as Americans, hold so dear.

The race in NJ-4 sees Josh Zeitz attempting to hit Chris Smith for donating $2000 to Arizona Congressman Rick Renzi after the Congressman’s office was raided by the FBI…

Why did Chris Smith feel it was important to give cash to an obviously corrupt Congressman? No other Member of Congress made such a show of solidarity. We know Smith went out of his way to show his support, because Renzi was the only campaign to receive a contribution from Smith during the reporting period.

The race in NJ-3 has John Adler talking issues with the voters at the first of his town hall meetings tonight in Mount Laurel, while his opponent Chris Myers tries to lob an attack over Adler’s support for School Construction Funding in the budget.

News Round-up and Open Thread for Tuesday, November 14th

  • Several congressmen from Our Fair State are protesting a proposed plan to lease oil rights in federal waters off of Virginia, citing our clean beaches and ocean environment as a draw for tourists and expressing concerns about oil spills.
  • The Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards yesterday did vote unanimously to investigate Wayne Bryant, who is already being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s office. Bryant’s lawyer has requested the legislative probe wait until the current probe is completed. The smell is overwhelming, isn’t it?
  • The Joint Legislative Committee on Public Employee Benefits Reform will recommend raising the retirement age for new state workers to 62 (currently 55), switching to a 401K type of retirement plan instead of pensions, and requiring all state employees to contribute more to their health plans. Union leaders insist that pension and health benefits should be changed only in the contracts, not by legislative measures.
  • The Committee on Government Consolidation and Shared Services is shying away from creating county school districts and instead looking at creating county superintendents to oversee local school officials and spending. Also, the idea of consolidating fire elections with other municipal elections is getting slammed by firefighters, who are lobbying heavily to keep their separate voting day. So, we should add yet another layer of bureaucracy and maintain the status quo with an extra election- exactly how will this lower my property taxes?
  • Recently released census data shows Mexicans are the poorest among Our Fair State’s immigrant groups and are worse off here than in any other state. Other Spanish-speaking immigrant groups are comparatively more affluent, but there is still a large economic gap between white & Asian groups and black & Latino groups.
  • The State Senate Judiciary Committee approved yesterday a bill to add “irreconcilable differences” as a reason for divorce, therefore not requiring an 18-month separation in order to divorce with no fault. The identical bill was approved by the Assembly’s committee last month.

What’s on your mind today, Blue Jersey?