A long time ago, Frog sent me this poll showing that otherwise environmentally-conscious Americans favor nearshore drilling when gas prices are high. Her conclusions were “1. I hate MSNBC and numbers 2. I hate people and 3. I bet TOG might have something to say about this.”
And indeed we do, even 5 weeks after the poll came out. (Sorry, Frog.) Here’s a handy point-by-point completely non-comprehensive list for arguing with your right-wing uncle over the Labor Day barbecue.
Nearshore drilling will NOT lower gas prices.
McCain declared a couple weeks ago, “We need to drill more, drill now, and pay less at the pump.” Unfortunately, according to the Washington Post, the Energy Department itself estimates that production would not start until 2017 and would have no “significant” effect on prices or supplies until 2030.
And what does “significant effect on prices” mean anyway? Slate’s Green Lantern estimates that the most optimistic estimate (from an oil company) for American production would only increase global oil production by 1%. This would only lower prices at the pump by 3 percent. So if gas remains $4.30 per gallon, prices would be reduced by 12 cents, or to a less-than-stunning $4.18 per gallon.
Since I’m a graduate student and Eric is an alt-weekly reporter, we are pretty budget conscious. Still, saving $1.44 per tank or $5.76 per month does not make a huge difference in our lives, and I imagine that it wouldn’t significantly improve the lot of most Americans.
Nearshore drilling will NOT provide energy security.
CR McClain’s handy pie chart speaks for itself. Even with drilling everything in the country, the US will still be dependent on foreign oil.
Nearshore drilling WILL cause environmental damage, but not because of oil spills.
Everyone keeps talking about oil spills, which of course are very damaging when they happen. But oil platform don’t release much oil – most oil spills happen during transportation. And oil platforms do attract fish and grow all kinds of tasty bivalves. So why doesn’t this benthic ecologist stop worrying and learn to love the drilling platform?
Because oil platforms grow jellyfish, too. Most jellies need a hard surface in order to complete their life cycle. Jellies produce a planula larvae that settles on a hard surface and proceeds to asexually reproduce its tiny patooty off. (It’s called strobilation.) Each individual polyp can produce tens to hundreds of adult jellies.
Normally, hard surfaces are, well, hard to come by in the ocean. For example, in the Gulf of Mexico, pretty much everything is muddy or sandy except for the odd rock. The lack of rocks should naturally limit the jelly population. But when you add in GIANT HUGE METAL TOWERS, people are basically giving jellies the run of the house and the keys to the liquor cabinet.
When artificial hard surfaces are combined with pollution and overfishing of the jellies’ predators, we get nasty situations like in this NY Times article from last week. (Thanks, Riana!) So never mind the logical and aesthetic arguments – if you don’t like getting stung by jellies at the beach, or if you like eating fish and not jelly burgers, you should be against nearshore oil drilling.
(Thanks for the articles, Frog and Riana! Also thanks to Alison for imparting her jelly polyp wisdom.)