Republicans Looking to Boost Domestic Oil Drilling

An article published by ThinkProgress.org recently highlighted efforts by Republicans in Congress which the writer contends are attempting to reverse much of the progress made in the last two decades relating to clean energy and environmental sustainability.

The fun and games are scheduled to begin next week, says the article, when Grand Ol’ Party leaders will attempt to railroad through a bill called the Strategic Energy Production Act.

This stacking the deck in favor of the oil industry, says ThinkProgress.org, shows how “hollow” is the GOP’s mantra on energy that “we shouldn’t pick winners and losers” – with an inference against clean energy initiatives.

Instead, contends the piece, “the most anti-environmental House of Representatives in the history of Congress” will show it very much is picking a winner in seeking to free up more federal-owned land for drilling oil and natural gas.

Besides this new piece of legislation, amendments to existing efficiency programs have already been tabled, with aim of cutting funding for efficiency programs, such as R&D on wind technology, clean vehicles and even international commitments to assist developing nations in the pursuit of utilizing clean energy sources.

Although the article does take a somewhat sensationalist approach, it highlights what others have said is a rather worrying situation – increased pillaging of natural resources and consumption of fossil fuels, at a time when much of the world is looking at ways to conserve both the environment and such energy use.

As had been said in other quarters, the author makes a case that could be said to illustrate just how out of touch the GOP has become with the average American citizen. Saying current leaders not even trying to hide their duplicitous intentions, the piece observes ways in which they’re blatantly placing the interests of big money and big oil ahead of other issues, such as high unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, the need to reduce emissions, and alternative sources of energy.

According to the article, what is perhaps ironic, is that some of the programs designed to promote clean energy use, were put in place by Republican administrations in the first place, which at the time of introduction were not viewed as “stripping away consumer rights” – a view that contrasts substantially with the modern GOP.

Obviously we know which side of the aisle the ThinkProgress writer would sit on. We find the argument compelling, but are curious also what you think about all of this? Constructive comments that can support your views are welcome.

ThinkProgress.org via Clean Technica


  • Randy Bryan

    The Republican Party has forced the country to maintain deeply entrenched policies that favor keeping fossil fuels at low cost [production tax credits, etc.], while allowing time limited tokens of support for renewable energy: [renewable tax credits, ev subsidies, CAFE2025]. Then, over time, takes every opportunity to show just how vulnerable to cancellation those Renewables supports are.

    But, the problem with fossil fuels is their external costs; healthcare, military, pollution effects-cleanup, national security, etc. These are costs that we pay in other ways because of our need and use of oil. Several entities have estimated the external costs to be about 2-3 times the price of oil. Some large portion of that is paid by the government [medicare/caide, military, national security, etc.] which we pay for in taxes. This “success” of cheap fossil fuels perpetuates because the external costs are not included in the price… Though we still pay them, and our economy suffers from carrying the non-productive costs.

    But what if the external costs [or even the government’s share of the external costs] were included into the price of oil, gas or coal as a carbon or emissions tax, or even phased in over 20 or so years so that long term investment in the status quo could be written off and alternate fuel plans made. Then, heaven forbid, the cost of fossil fuels would rise even more than it will in the current market, we would cut back on fossil fuel use, there would be less external cost to carry in the economy, making our economy more efficient. And an efficient economy means more wealth for its participants [though decidedly less wealth for the fossil fuel industry]. By contrast, there are few external costs to Renewable Energy sources and uses.

    If current policy favoring fossil fuels continues, we will continue to pay the price anyway as we fowl our health, the environment and world security… All because we think we are paying a cheap price for fuel.

  • Jon

    The unstated implication in the article is that it is cleaner to extract, transport and refine oil from other parts of the world than oil in the US. The US environmental standards are among the highest in the world. Domestic drilling does not really reduce world the price of oil, but it keeps more of the jobs and money in the economy that pays for it.

    When we send $100 to Venezuela, not much of that money comes back. That wealth has to be offset by generating wealth by some other means, or by borrowing. If it says in the local economy, there is a larger multiplier effect resulting in more taxes collected and money spent by workers. That makes it easier to have the means to invest in alternatives.

  • DrP

    I am impressed by the thoughtful comments presented earlier. I believe that the comments presented valid positions that are not filled with raving erroneous opinions.

    In addition to what has been written, it is ironic to me that the present leaders of the GOP (Tea Party) advocate government action to increase supply and reduce prices when they generally state that this type of government action is what they oppose.

    In actual practice supply/demand/price curves are not as simple as the diagrams one sees in econ 101. In a world economy where demand may be growing outside the US, increasing supply by increasing domestic production may not reduce the world price of crude. Oil from US wells might be sold on the world market and not effect domestic fuel prices. Natural gas is currently more costly to ship than oil and increased production does seem to drive down domestic prices. Natural gas may be a viable alternative source of energy for the domestic market; however, distribution and utilization (demand) is not in place for substitution for our traditional oil based fuel (gasoline).

    In other countries the “free-rider” or hidden costs attributed to consumption of oil based products is accounted for by taxes. This option does not seem possible in the present political climate of no new taxes and less governmental interference in the market economy.

  • James Davis

    The GOP and the Tea Party hollows and screams all the time that the government should not pick winners and losers, yet that is exactly what they are doing with oil, coal, natural gas, and nuclear, and in doing so they will plunge us back into the fossil age or stone age. So what the republicans are telling us is that the “R” in republican means ‘Reverse’ and keep it in that gear until there is not a drop of fossil fuel left. The GOP hollows and screams at us in telling us that the government is spending too much and it needs to cut the spending; yet the GOP gives trillions of dollars in incentives to oil, coal, nuclear, war, and natural gas, and the only thing they cut out was funding for clean energy research and production and affordable health care for the 25,000,000 adults and children that their fossil fuel is making sick. Big industry gave the GOP $1 billion dollars to fight Obama’s clean energy and affordable health care acts, and Romney even wants to cut out health care for children with pre-existing conditions unless that child has had their own health care for several years and is able to strap their dog to the top of their diesel powered stretch limo. The GOP hollows and screams as they hack and cough that global warming and pollution does not exist and they think that nothing needs to be done about the pollution like building electric vehicles, so they will cut all funding for electric and hybrid vehicles. The GOP will give you a “fair and balanced” government…as long as you are in the top 1% of the money earners.

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  • Roy_H

    The very best energy solution is to develop the LFTR. Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors run on cheap (as in free) and plentiful thorium. LFTRs burn up almost 100% of the fuel so there is no long term radioactive waste. They are inherently safe. Thorium does not require the expensive enrichment as done with uranium for conventional nuclear reactors. Only China is smart enough to be working on this American design. The technology was proven by Oakridge Laboratories in the 1960’s but discarded because it wasn’t suitable to make bombs with.

    See http://flibe-energy.com/attributes/ and http://energyfromthorium.com/

  • Roy_H

    howls not hollows

    thumbs up!

  • MrEnergyCzar

    We’re addicted to oil. You don’t give a cocaine addict more cocaine if you want him to wean off of it and be drug free in the future…

    MrEnergyCzar

  • James Davis

    We can tell that you are not GOP, and I will even bet that you own an electric or hybrid vehicle, and you don’t have a dog strapped to the top of your car neither.

  • James Davis

    Actually, Roy, “hollows” is used in the south to mean ‘talk loudly’ or a place where you live; depends how you use it in a sentence. Just like “reckon”, which means “end of subject or nothing more to discuss, or “We may continue this conversation later on if you want to.”

  • Van

    Great topic and thoughtful comments.

    Just a few words on false choices. Do we need to use more fossil fuel in the USA to improved our economy? Nope. Do we need to spend less on fossil fuel to help our economy? Yep. So how do we bring the price down? (1) add more domestic (North American) supply to our consumption mix and use less foreign oil. (2) Continue the trend to use less total fossil fuel by shifting to alternatives when possible, i.e. plug in hybrids, and by replacing coal plants with nuclear plants.

    I never lived in the north so I do not know why vast areas still depend on “home heating oil” (from foreign sources) rather than having domestic natural gas piped to their homes. If we really do have vast amounts of domestic (i.e North American) natural gas, we should build the infrastructure (underground piping) to supply it to our homes and businesses.

    But instead of constructive steps, we get diversions like the “hydrogen economy” from the right, and “crony capitalism” from the left.

  • Daniel Kanavage

    People don’t want to admit it to themselves, but unfortunately we need oil and natural gas right now and the GOP realizes this. Alternative sources of energy are great, but they may be 25 years away from making a real impact. What are we going to use for energy until then? Also, right now most of these alt sources require manufacturing that consumes lots and lots of fossil fuels.

    If you want to create jobs and rebuilt infrastructure great. Pave more roads. You know what makes the asphalt we use on roads? Oil. You know what heavy equipment needs to run? Gas.

    It would be great if we could set in place really strict environmental standards, but right now they would harm businesses too much. If the economy continues to fail there will be less money to R&D better energy sources. Use local resources (responsibly) to boost production and the economy in this country and then when the going is good we can focus efforts on doing business in better more efficient and environmentally responsible ways.

  • Dan_K

    Van,

    I agree with/like your main thoughts.

    I live in New England and my home, which was built in ’86, uses oil for heat including the water heater. In growing areas of the country natural gas is being expanded with new construction. In dense areas of population the service can be extended minimally and reach a large number of consumers. In rural areas the cost of providing NG is greater and the number of customers fewer. The cost of extending natural gas to whole new towns and cities would be enormous. If the natural gas companies made this investment the price of their service would be so high nobody would use it anyway. My town is fairly rural so it would require hundreds of feet of underground pipe just to connect 2 homes. The cost of the labor and material alone to install that makes it not worth while.

    I’m not sure what the solution is to upgrade large regions of the country off of oil. Possibly some kind of vegetable oil type product that wouldn’t require piping and could be used with modifications to existing systems while being more renewable and cleaner. If I could think of a good answer for this I’d be a millionaire in no time.