The Remarkable Synergy of Energytomorrow.org, John McCain, and Calls For Offshore Drilling
Originally published at francisrants.com / June 17th, 2008 ||| [print_link]
Anybody who has been watching cable news over the last several weeks will notice new ads being put out by theAmerican Petroleum Institute (API), talking about “securing America’s energy future” and inviting us to go to their website, Energytomorrow.org.
With their upbeat tones and attractive blonde spokeswoman, the ads hint at the true nature of their mission: they want to drill for oil offshore of states like Florida and California, and they want to drill in protected wildlife refuges like ANWR.
With McCain flip-flopping and adopting the oil company platform, the two become blood brothers: McCain will push an extensively polled plan to liberalize offshore drilling while the oil companies launch a campaign to promote “domestic exploration.” Both campaigns help the other: the money and resources from Big Oil augment the McCain argument, helping him politically. The more McCain pushes for offshore drilling, the more possible it becomes for Big Oil to win their prize: unencumbered American drilling.
Anticipating the high cost of gasoline and knowing that Americans remain suspicious of the oil industry’s massive profits, API decided to go all-out with a massive lobbying and advertising effort that mirrors the AMA’s demolition of the Clinton healthcare plan back in the early 90’s. In a brilliant synergy of public relations and lobbying, they have convinced George W. Bush and John McCain to flip-flop on their previous positions regarding offshore drilling.
The oil companies mention little about moving beyond petroleum in their ads and onEnergytomorrow.org. They rightly claim the demand for oil will increase and we will need more resources to meet the maturing of current demand. However, rather than put forth real solutions for getting ourselves free of our addiction to foreign oil, they merely claim that the pipe dream of more petroleum is the only answer, and for that we need to embark on destructive and ultimately unfulfilling ventures into some of the most pristine, untouched areas of our country.
While pro-oil interests attempt to upset the scientific consensus of global warming, they push an illusion that unleashing oil companies will somehow solve a real, long term problem. It will double our problem: it will consume precious resources and promote political dissonance while its consumption itself creates a separate, destructive force that slowly harms the environment.
McCain and Bush are making a huge gamble here: they are gambling that the public will buy into the illusion that offshore drilling will prevent an energy disaster, while ignoring the potential backlashes in coastal states where tourism is a drilling incident away from tanking. Right now, it appears the American people are receptitve: a Rasumussen poll of Americans finds that almost 70% believe offshore drilling is a good idea.
But the essential part of the gamble lies in the fact that even previous Republican presidents have realized the unpopularity and destructive nature of offshore drilling in states that will bear the environmental brunt of the exploration. Drilling in these zones was banned in 1981, AFTER the big petroleum shortages of the 70’s. Florida, whose economy is dependent on tourism, doesn’t want tar balls washing onto the shores of their popular beaches.
In California, the opposition to drilling is nearly opposite of the what the Rasmussen poll reflects: a 2006 poll showed that 64% of Californians oppose more drilling. Of course, McCain and Bush know they will lose California, but are choosing to gamble with Florida. Governor Crist of Florida has previously opposed offshore drilling, but is also starting to dither.
There appears to be a remarkable cooperation between the Republican party and the lobbyists and PR specialists in the oil industry. Bush and Cheney, oil men and friends of oil men, came into office with petroleum and a reasonable price. They are exiting with it more expensive than ever, with oil companies making record profits, and the United States bogged down in a war with a country that’s sitting on at least 100 billion readily available barrels of high-quality oil. At today’s prices, that is nearly $14 trillion in oil.
While offshore drilling will result in a modest increase in supply, global demand will flatten out any significant, long term relief in oil prices. It is hard to imagine a temporary increase in supply will suppress an upcoming oil crisis.
The blonde woman from Energy Tomorrow has a simple message: drill. Big Oil wants a few more milkshakes. They and McCain have formed a coalition that augments each other’s message, and may just work in the era of $4 a gallon gasoline.
Update: Even I didn’t actually believe the oil companies were this bad, but apparently, they already have access to billions of barrels of oil offshore. Make sure to read this diary from Daily Kos about the true intentions of Big Oil: opening up more oil-rich assets in order to further control the amount of petroleum on the world market. The money right now is not in drilling for the oil, that would simply take it out of the ground while the added supply will drive prices (and profits) down.
Their play right now is this: hold the nation hostage by their own high gas prices. Strangely enough, they are using the anger at high gas prices to their own advantage: use record prices to persuade people we need to open up more lands for drilling, even though there’s already plenty available. So they win on both counts, reaping record profits with sky-high fuel prices while using the prices as a wedge to win access to more oil fields. They will tightly control output from the fields, putting just enough oil on the market to meet demand and garner the highest possible price.
A scam of the highest order.