Thomas Paine – April 2010
All too often, it is the fine print at the bottom of a document that advises the reader of possible errors or omissions in the body of the document that has already been read. I believe it is best to point out, in advance, which content is knowledge ( supported by facts ) and which content is notion ( driven by emotion ). I am stating up front that the following contains a significant measure of notion. Such must be so since it attempts to predict the future. Even though this approach differs from my normal approach to subject matter, I believe the point to be discussed is so important it merits an early warning, i.e., warning before the fact, therefore notion.
We, as a nation, have just recently witnessed what has been probably the most inenarrable action by our elected representatives that we are ever likely to see in our lifetime. The merits or demerits of health care reform will certainly be debated well into the future. At this juncture, my wish is not to debate what has already happened, but to sound a clear warning with respect to the lessons that have been learned, by the members of Congress. Inept leadership has injected them into a show that cannot be rivaled even by Barnum and Bailey. They have learned a lesson with respect to avoiding accountability for their future actions. This is not to say the Congress will behave in a manner more attuned to the interest of the general population. They will instead be much more devious in their approach to contentious issues. This then requires the average citizen to be more observant of the facts linked to future important issues. Common Sense is all that is required to distill fact from fiction, provided one observes closely the actions of elected and appointed officials impinging on that issue.
What might be the next looming issue Congress decides to address? There are several likely candidate issues, and I will limit this present discussion to one in which I have some background experience. My instinct tells me the recent announcement of opening up to oil drilling previously closed areas is not the panacea it is purported to be. Why would I say this? Am I becoming cynical and mistrustful of government? Quite possibly the answer is a qualified yes!
Let’s take a few minutes to try and distill some facts from what appears to be complex mix of information and misinformation.
The president has announced offshore areas previously closed to drilling would be opened to exploration.
In order to accomplish this, congress would have to pass a law permitting go ahead, negating the previous ban.
Why would the president really risk alienating the environmentalist groups which have been among his most staunch supporters?
How were the areas being proposed for opening selected? Can anyone explain the process of selection and who participated?
Why has Energy Secretary Chu been curiously silent on a subject which has been one of his salient areas of comment previously? What about the EPA “cabinet rank” appointee Jackson? Certainly he was in favor of the recent “Carbon dioxide is harmful to your health….” pronouncement from his department. Lest we forget the EPA has stated as one of its prime objectives: “WORKING FOR ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE” Whatever that is, since they have yet to define it ! Then there is the Bureau of Land and Minerals Management that has Wilma Lewis ( an outspoken environmentalist) as Assistant Secretary. Don’t forget, the Department of the Interior, under Ken Salizar, holds ultimate dominion over Federal Government lands. His Director of the Minerals Management Service, Elizabeth Bimbaum is not a friend of energy producers. Salizar himself is a graduate in Political Science followed by a law degree. While he practiced law he focused on environmental law. He strongly opposed opening up shale deposits on federal lands to exploration when it was proposed by Bush. Salazar inserted language into an omnibus bill barring the Federal Government from issuing rules providing for potential oil shale production. That law expired in 2008 but Salizar vigorously fought to have it reinstated.
Is it possible the most radical environmentalists, supported by these government officials, will let increased offshore drilling go down without requiring lengthy public hearings followed by literally years of court actions aimed at stopping any effective progress?
Should we believe the present administration in Washington is actually in favor of increased drilling to help support the national debt burden?
WHERE HAS COMMON SENSE GONE !
If one can believe the accuracy with which the news media has displayed stylized maps purporting to show where the drilling ban could be lifted and if my memory has not failed with advancing years, then the candidate areas being proposed ARE NOT the areas the oil companies believe will contain producible amounts of oil and gas. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) covers an expanse of 78,000 square kilometers. Of this 78,000 sq.km. 32,000 have been designated permanent wilderness area. 6,100 sq.km. were previously designated as an area of interest due to possible natural resource value. This 6,100 sq.km. lies on the western side of ANWR adjacent to Alaska state lands already under oil exploration and production. It is very probable the oil companies are interested in only some 30 to 50 sq. km. which are geologically similar to the Alaska State lands now producing. While the area shown on news media maps contains very significant amounts of territory, it does not even come close to the area of interest to the oil companies. The same can be said about the indicated territory shown on the Atlantic coast and offshore western Florida. In all fairness it should be said that offshore western Florida was previously thought to contain an amount of natural gas that could hold some interest to the oil companies. With the recent discovery of new and proved reserves of natural gas in shale beds underlying a very significant part of the continental United States, it is unlikely ANY area offshore Florida will generate much drilling interest in the foreseeable future.
Will the words of the oil companies be spun to the advantage of the present administration if the companies state “ We are not much interested in the areas being proposed.”
Then why bother to initiate this discussion at all unless the present administration has more to gain than to lose? How can this be? Once again Congress will do the administration’s dirty work. They will surely propose a bill to allow prospective exploration in the areas of reference, and they will make certain this same bill contains very stringent environmental restrictions, presently known as cap and trade, that have absolutely nothing to do with offshore drilling. “Cap and Trade” will be phased out and these onerous restrictions (read taxes) will be couched in other terminology to obscure its true intent. After having had global warming cum climate change initiatives exposed as composed of many falsehoods, it will be necessary to substantially alter the approach being used while still imposing emission restrictions and increased and even illogical energy taxes on everyone.
The bill will seem to promote one step towards energy independence for the United States, or if not independence then at least a meaningful reduction in imported energy with an attending lessening of the foreign trade deficit. At current oil prices, estimates are more than $29 billion dollars per year in foreign deficit could be eliminated once full production is reached in ANWR alone. While $29 billion may be an insignificant amount to a congress that has started to deal regularly in trillions, it is still a very large number to most of us.
How can anyone in congress vote against a measure supportive of what has been sought so long? Even if trouble in passage arises from those representatives interested enough to read and understand the negative content of the bill, we should all remember that precedent has already been established to utilize the reconciliation maneuver on all matters of interest not just budgetary matters as was the case previously. This will allow congress to insert any additional restrictive or punitive language they wish without open discussion or super majority vote. It is safe to say that a lesson has been learned by congress and that lesson is how to get anything they want through duplicity and rule bending. The Internal Revenue Service is being expanded in order to significantly enhance its enforcement role. Do not be mislead into believing this new enforcement capability will operate through the justice and court system or that it will be limited to issues established by the health care reform act. You have only seen chapter one of a new approach to forced governance by deceit.
So much for the facts, questions and notions, now we must decide as a nation of individuals what to do about a government that operates by deceit as standard procedure. I believe the answer is simple and direct. We need to replace that government and all of its minions in the most expeditious and lawful manner possible.
T.P = 2010