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Note to media: Are you going to allow McCain to just make up stuff on oil drilling?

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"Note to media: Are you going to allow McCain to just make up stuff on oil drilling?"

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I don’t really see how there is any serious prospect for solving either our energy security problem or our climate problem if the traditional media doesn’t do any policing whatsoever of statements by major politicians. Here is McCain yesterday:

… it will be vital that we continue oil production at a high level including offshore drilling. Now, the briefings that I have had with the oil producers, there are some instances that within a matter of months, they could be getting additional oil.

Standing in front of a large California oil drill, in what appears to be filming of a new movie, There Will Be Lies, McCain went so far as to say:

But there’s abundant resources in the view of the people who are in the business that could be exploited within a period of months. So offshore drilling is something we have to do.

Okay, I can understand why he believes whatever stuff the oil producers make up — they are lining his pockets now. And I understand the three reasons that McCain would lie to the public:

  1. His original “placebo” argument wasn’t very compelling: “Even though it may take some years, the fact that we are exploiting those reserves would have a psychological impact that I think is beneficial.”
  2. The truth is even less compelling: Ending the moratorium on coastal drilling holds no serious promise of reducing gasoline prices for US consumers even a single penny two decades from now according to Bush’s own energy analysts (see “The cruel offshore-drilling hoax“).
  3. Since he has no actual plan for getting us out of the economic mess Bush got us into, McCain is now going so far as “framing his support for expanded offshore drilling and other energy proposals as economic stimulants in an effort to woo voters concerned about the floundering economy” (Greenwire 7/29, subs. req’d). Seriously!

But why does the media let a major party candidates get away with such disinformation? And it is disinformation. As a U.S. Energy Information Administration analyst told me earlier this month:

… the constraints on offshore drilling have little to do with the price of oil, but a lot to do with timing. Once the leases are available, it is a 5 to 10 years before you get to exploratory drilling. There is a tremendous shortage of drilling rigs and manpower. Plus, offshore drilling is so expensive, you don’t want to make any mistakes. So you spend do a lot of seismic analysis to minimize your chances of a dry well.

And it is probably another five or more years from drilling your exploratory well to getting significant production from the area — and that assumes you didn’t dig a dry well. If you did, then you are probably going to be even more cautious. And all that assumes you have developed a pipeline infrastructure for delivering the oil. But the Atlantic Coast lacks such an infrastructure, so who knows how long it would take to get its oil?

On top of that, California won’t allow drilling off its coast anytime soon. And Sen. Martinez won’t allow drilling off Florida’s coast anytime soon. And Big Oil has tens of billions of barrels of oil yet to find and retrieve from the Gulf of Mexico leases that were opened up two years ago.

So McCain’s claim is spin wrapped in a lie wrapped in a hoax.

If there is no penalty in the public arena for lying, then we’re just going to get more and more of it.

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10 Responses to Note to media: Are you going to allow McCain to just make up stuff on oil drilling?

  1. paulm says:

    I think McCain’s problem is he’s has forgotten what his initial policy was (and probably where he put his toothbrush) , which is not hard to imagine.

    If Americans vote him in, it will just be the same old stand up prop story that Bush is…a cut out cardboard or better, a wooden puppet with the strings directly attached to Big Oil.

    Sad state of affairs for US democracy!

    Any one seen Wall-E ? If not, go …..a classic!

    This new Pixar movie is an environmental cautionary tale and a story of robot love — and quite possibly the most melancholy cartoon ever made.
    Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.

  2. Ronald says:

    I heard on MSNBC that McCain no longer speaks for the McCain campaign.

    He makes alot of speaking flip flops.

  3. drlava says:

    Unfortunately the myth that we can drill our way out of this crisis is prevailing. All it takes is a quick 5 minutes to scan the deviant right wing talk stations to hear the propaganda. America is buying it. The myth is that Democrats created the “oil shortage” by some unnamed legislation and the only way out is to drill in Anwar/Gulf, vote McCain.

    I don’t know how you get the truth out when you have this overwhelming propaganda machine blasting out this stuff to a dim-witted public.

    If you haven’ seen the movie “Idiocracy” yet…..well it won’t seem like we are that far off from it’s vision of America 2520.

  4. AmyW says:

    Like drlava said, the myth really is prevailing. As the only environmentalist in the family, I’ve listened to my family extolling the virtues of offshore drilling lately and found myself cringing at their obvious errors. If you’re not checking out eco-blogs and reading environmental websites, you’re probably not getting the real story. It’s a tragedy that people like McCain are getting away with this. It seems so obvious why he’s flip-flopped, but that’s not what anyone’s talking about.

  5. red says:

    The argument that offshore drilling isn’t going to produce oil soon is a losing argument. The typical car driver at the gas station is going to say “Ok, why didn’t we start 10 years ago? We’d better start right away!”

    The argument that the resulting oil won’t be enough to reduce prices much is also not going to be persuasive. It would still be a lot of oil on any human-understandable scale – community, business, town, state, etc. It would still be oil that’s presumably from U.S. companies and workers, not OPEC.

    A better strategy (for someone(s) in the right position) would be to point out the problems with offshore drilling, and take the position that because of its weaknesses, you aren’t going to vote for it alone, but you will vote for it if you get policy consessions A, B, and C that have more potential to achieve energy independence and/or climate progress. [substitute any number of policy proposals discussed here for A, B, and C]

    Since the oil isn’t going to come for years, and the amount of oil isn’t all that much anyway, what’s the disadvantage? If your respected opponent doesn’t go for the bargain, assuming it’s a reasonable one, you have scored a political point. If they do go for it, you both score political points, and you make progress towards your policy goals without sacrificing much. That sounds a lot better than achieving nothing and letting your opponent score political points.

  6. Carol Bayard says:

    How do we get this information to the media and to Obama so that he can use it to refute McCain’s lies?

  7. marcus says:

    IN THE VERY END, THE ONLY BILL THAT WILL PASS THRU HOUSE AND SENATE WILL HAVE TO CONTAIN A BIT OF DRILLING AND CONSERVATION AND GREEN TECH….DON’T ACT TLIKE YOU DON ‘T KNOW THIS……..I LIKE THE OBAMA PLAN BECASUE I WANT EMPHASIS ON GREEN TECHNOLOGY AND HOME BASED MANUFACTURING…I SEE THIS AS BEING ABLE TO CREATE MOR EOF THESE JOBS AND REPLACE SOME THAT HAVE BEEN LOSTALL THRUOUT THE MANUFACTURING MID WEST.
    WE WILL NEED TO DO SOME DRILLING LOCALLY OR AT LEAST BUY OIL RESERVES FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE…HEY HOW ABOUT THIS…IRAQ COULD GIVE US A LITTLE OIL

  8. marcus says:

    we should have started to drill when jimmy carter said so………….but nooooo too many thought he was foolish…gas was soo cheap.we didn’t need alternative energy……….thanks
    Reagan……….imagine if we had started on the alternative energy path all those decades ago…..we never would have hit 4.00/gal gas…….i can tell you that much…..and we’d have an infrastructure to support hybrids, and electric cars and the like hummmnnnn

  9. Why aren’t you placing the facts in alternative media sources? I only see these articles in areas that a fraction of the public views. Nothing in the popular areas of U-Tube, My Space, PBS, Face Book etc. If you know that this is an environmental catastrophy and that the major media will not print it, then why are you continuing to only broadcast from home?

    The other sources I mentioned are FREE to use. Their base of viewers are what ignited and continue to support the Obama campaign. Anyone half way savvy in making sites, posting video, links to the facts with names and dates and studies to back them up, presents an impeccable package of reality and truth that is very effective in influencing the public toward that truth. Why do you not propose that create and assign teams towards that end???? Or, maybe you are and I just don’t know it due to my newness on the internet. But I found this link through series of pressing buttons that is unlikely to be replicated by many others. It upsets me that it seems to be tucked away in a corner of the internet, hidden from the very people your bloggers claim, get thier info from Limbah (I don’t care about the spelling).

  10. WillS says:

    Why open new oil leases when the oil companies are only using a fraction of the leases available to them now? More importantly, why are the oil companies only using a fraction of the leases available to them now? The reason is that the oil companies made record profits last quarter doing business as usual. Oil exploration would lower profits now, and it would take years (maybe even decades) for them to recoup their investment.

    Another fact also merits consideration: We don’t have the refinery capacity to process the additional oil.

    Yes, if we had expanded our oil exploration and drilling 20 years ago, we might not be facing the energy crisis that exists today. Twenty years from now, I don’t want to hear: We could have avoided our energy problems if we had invested in clean, renewable energy solutions in 2008. I hope we invest wisely for our future.

    By the way Red – If I’m not mistaken, the strategy you propose sounds a lot like Obama’s Energy Plan.