Back to reality, today the Prez. smartly called (again) for an end to the ban on offshore oil drilling as part of what the USA Today calls a “four-point plan for more domestic production.” McCain is also newly on board with domestic oil drilling, a position he hasn’t long held. Larry Kudlow says that no matter the reasons, McCain’s switcheroni on offshore domestic drilling is a “welcome development.” Yeah, but, is it sincere? Furthermore, will he have any crediblity at all when he debates this issue with Obama, considering just as recently as three weeks ago McCain wasn’t as gung-ho about domestic drilling as he is now (done some poll watching recently, Senator?)?
Suffice it to say that most conservatives who are supporting McCain right now aren’t doing it because they think he’s going to stick to his guns regarding his latest position on domestic oil production. I’ll stick with supporting him based on his foreign policy/GWOT strengths, thank you very much. His commitment to winning it is one of the few McCain commitments I’m confident he’ll stick to.
1. Increase access to the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Experts believe that areas under leasing prohibitions on the OCS could produce about 18 billion barrels of oil. Actual resources may be greater, but we will not know until exploration is allowed. The problem is that Congress has restricted access to much of the OCS since the early 1980s. Since then, advances in technology have made it possible to conduct oil exploration in the OCS that is out of sight, protects coral reefs and habitats, and protects against oil spills. With these advances â€“ and a dramatic increase in oil prices â€“ these Congressional restrictions have become outdated and counterproductive.
— Republicans in Congress have proposed several promising bills that would lift the legislative ban on oil exploration in the OCS. President Bush calls on the House and Senate to pass such good legislation as soon as possible. This legislation should give the States the option of opening up OCS resources off their shores and ensure the environment is protected. There is also an Executive prohibition on exploration in the OCS. When Congress lifts the legislative ban, the President will lift this Executive prohibition.
2. Tap into the extraordinary potential of oil shale. Oil shale is a type of rock that can produce oil when exposed to heat or other processes. In one major deposit â€“ the Green River Basin of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming â€“ there lies the equivalent of about 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil. If it can be fully recovered, it would equal more than a century’s worth of currently projected oil imports.
— Oil shale is a highly promising resource. For many years, the high cost of extracting oil from shale exceeded the benefit, but today, companies are investing in technology to make oil shale production more affordable and efficient. While the cost of extracting oil from shale is still more than the cost of traditional production, it is also less than the current market price of oil.
— Democrats in Congress are standing in the way of further development. Last year, Democratic leaders used the omnibus spending bill to insert a provision blocking oil shale leasing on Federal lands â€“ President Bush calls on Congress to remove that provision immediately.
3. Permit exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). In 1995, Congress passed legislation allowing oil production in a small fraction of ANWR’s 19.6 million acres, yet President Clinton vetoed the bill. With a drilling footprint of less than 2,000 acres â€“ about 0.01 percent of this distant Alaskan terrain â€“ America could produce an estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil. This is the equivalent of roughly two decades of imported crude oil from Saudi Arabia.
— Scientists have developed innovative techniques to reach ANWR’s oil with virtually no impact on the land or local wildlife. These techniques are currently being utilized successfully in other areas. President Bush urges Members of Congress to allow this remote region to bring enormous benefits to the American people.
4. Expand and enhance our refinery capacity. It has been 30 years since our Nation built a new refinery, and upgrades in our refining capacity are urgently needed. Refineries are the critical link between crude oil and the gasoline and diesel fuel that drivers put in their tanks. America now imports millions of barrels of fully-refined gasoline from abroad, imposing needless costs on American consumers and depriving American workers of good jobs.
— President Bush is proposing measures to expedite the refinery permitting process. The President proposes that challenges to refineries and other related energy project permits must be brought before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals within 60 days of the issuance of a permit decision. In addition, the President proposes that the Secretary of Energy be empowered to establish binding deadlines for permit decisions and to ensure that the various levels of approval required in the refinery permitting process are all handled in a timely way. And Congress should allow new refineries to be built on abandoned military bases.
Sounds good, but unlikely to go anywhere, based on how much opposition it’s sure to receive from the do-nothing Democrat Congress.