Monday, July 31, 2006

Offshore Drilling

The GOP will screw any American including the president's brother.
Sadly, Florida has all but lost its long battle to keep oil and gas rigs far from the state's shores. Sens. Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson deserve credit for achieving a better bill in the Senate than what the House passed, but the entire Florida congressional delegation must be faulted for not demanding more in return for giving up longstanding coastal protections.

It's unclear at this point what legislation will ultimately become law, because each house of Congress is adamantly insisting on its own version. The Senate would keep Gulf of Mexico drilling rigs at least 125 miles from the shoreline, but the House would make it 100 miles and give states the option of allowing even closer drilling in exchange for economic incentives.

But wouldn't this have been the perfect time for Florida to say, look, you want to jeopardize our environment and economy by drilling. OK, let's make a deal. Let's spread responsibility for covering the catastrophic costs of hurricanes.

But no. Florida still must fend for itself, even though the nation is pouring billions into Hurricane Katrina recovery and even though Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, but not Florida, would get a 37 percent cut of the revenue from new drilling.

Clarification: That last bit about the 37 percent I believe is misleading. Those states will, I read in the Seattle Times, recieve a large percentage of the government's royalties from such drilling.

(read more)

In a related story, there seems there are no provisions in the bill to require future fuel economy. That's a drastic oversight.
An energy bill set for passage in the U.S. Senate this week that would open up thousands more acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil exploration has some attractive features. But in the long run, it is a myopic piece of legislation.

Alabama, admittedly, would make out like a bandit under the proposed bill, and it’s easy to see why it has the support of our state’s senators. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., estimates it will produce “tens of millions of dollars annually" for Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana.

That’s because it contains a revenue-sharing plan that gives the four states 37.5 percent of royalties from new areas of production and new leases in existing production areas.

Now the federal government retains all royalties from oil production three miles or more from a state’s coastline.

The most troubling aspect of the energy bill is that while it opens up vast new areas of the Gulf to oil exploration and production, if [sic] it offers nothing to require increased fuel economy.

To move toward energy independence, the two concepts should be joined at the hip. But the Senate leadership, notably Tennessee Republican Bill Frist, refuses even to consider a bipartisan fuel-economy amendment, saying extra baggage would threaten passage of the bill.

The amendment, proposed by Sens. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., would require a 4 percent improvement in fuel economy standards annually unless federal regulators say otherwise. Experts say that’s a sensible figure.

To reduce it, the regulators would have to justify why the increase was not feasible.

The Senate energy bill’s lack of any fuel-economy requirement is reason enough to be wary of it. But some critics also say it could set oil exploration on a slippery slope that edges toward the coastline. [emphasis mine]

(read more)



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