Yesterday in his town hall meeting with Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) advocated offshore oil drilling by pushing three myths: 1) Hurricanes won’t damage oil rigs, 2) Fish love oil rigs, and 3) Cuba is allowing China to drill near the U.S. coast:
McCAIN: An oil rig off of the Louisiana coast. It survived hurricanes. It is safe, it is sound, and to somehow —
And by the way, on that oil rig — and I’m sure you’ve probably heard this story — you look down, and there’s fish everywhere! There’s fish everywhere! Yeah, the fish love to be around those rigs. So not only can it be helpful for energy, it can be helpful for some pretty good meals as well. […]
As far as China and Cuba are concerned, we continue to hear that there is negotiations or conversations or — I’m not exactly sure what the state of play is, but it’s not a healthy thing, obviously.
A look at these three myths:
MYTH #1: Hurricanes won’t damage oil rigs. The U.S. Minerals Management Service estimates that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed 113 offshore oil platforms and caused 124 offshore spills for a total of 743,700 gallons. In fact, damage to offshore producers accounted for 77 percent of the oil industry’s storm costs. In the wake of Hurricane Ike, there are at least three offshore oil rigs missing and “presumed to be total losses.”
MYTH #2: Fish love oil rigs. McCain is pushing an oil industry talking point. While marine biologists have seen fish congregating around oil rigs, it doesn’t mean they are good for wildlife. “That’s like taking a picture of birds on a telephone wire and saying it’s essential habitat,” said the Environmental Defense Center’s Linda Krop. Without the platforms, fish would likely return to natural reefs.
MYTH #3: Cuba is allowing China to drill near the U.S. coast. The Congressional Research Service has unequivocally concluded that Cuba has not permitted China to drill near the U.S. coastline in the Gulf of Mexico. Even Vice President Cheney has admitted this talking point is false.
McCain’s second claim is especially silly. Not too long ago, conservatives were also trying to argue that the United States should start drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Reserve because oil pipelines would “become a meeting ground and ‘coffee klatch‘ for caribou.” (HT: AMERICAblog)