Monday, March 23, 2009

APRIL FOOL’S MONTH: Be an idiot; drill offshore

Listen up, fool! You got an extra 24 hours to act like a dumbass this year. That’s right, instead of just April 1, you’ve you can be stupid a whole second day, depending on where you live. All you have to do is miss one of the four public comment dates over the proposal to open the US coast to offshore oil exploration: April 6 for the East Coast (Atlantic City, NJ); April 8 for the Gulf, (New Orleans, LA); April 14 in Anchorage Alaska; and April 16 for the West Coast (San Francisco, CA). And while April 1 may be the reigning holiday for ridiculous behavior and hoaxes perpetuated at other peoples’ expense, the addition of such a giant, greasy topic — and giving entire coastal regions just one day and a single location to sound off — makes for a month-long Fool-a-Palooza so big, one ship ain’t enough to hold ‘em all. This one requires a flotilla of fools.

1. SHIP OF FOOLS #1. The SS Drill Baby Drill. This one holds all the people who still buy the propaganda that expanding domestic production makes sense because somehow it will lower gas prices, make us more energy independent and show all those Muslim extremist A-ray-abs we mean business . Well, first of all, we could never meet our own domestic needs by increasing production; second, even if we put more fuel in the market, the big 10 producers will just refine less to keep the price up. (Which they’re already doing since we decreased our demand; that’s why gas is above $2 again.) And even if we could pump huge amounts, these companies would still just ship as much domestic oil as possible to another country willing to pay more (like we export 1.8 million gallon a day right now). So don’t think because we find it here it stays here. Oh yeah: and that TV ad by the Petroleum lobby saying 2/3 of America’s energy comes from North America? No shit: it’s called Canada and Mexico, neither of which is a US state. Nor are they part of the Middle East. Fool.

2. SHIP OF FOOLS NUMBER 2. Call this one, the S.S Show Me the Money!. With state budgets already upside down thanks to lower tax revenues and increased unemployment, the captain’s log includes a lot of politicians who already get a good bit of green from Big Oil and see the US economy’s current Titanic impression as a prime opportunity to earn their money. Well, let’s look at how much money states earn off those offshore leases. Start with the Gulf: in 2005, the Offshore Continental Shelf produced $5.7 billion in revenue. Of that, the largest producer, Louisiana, got to keep $40 million. Less than one percent. (But they keep 100% of the associated problems.) Now, lets look at how much revenue a clean beach generates. Dare County, NC alone makes $500 million every single year off tourism and fishing -- more than 10 times the amount of lease fees – that’s just one county. That’s not including income from residents who love to live there or businesses, or just real estate taxes. These are revenue streams that will shrink drastically if the beaches start losing quality. (Just ask Galveston.) And they’ll dry up completely the second a oil spill happens. And putting a bunch of rigs in the middle of hurricane alley guarantees it will happen one day. So, not only will you lose the tourist income, add the cost of cleanup. (The Valdez accident cost 2.5 billion – and that doesn’t include lost revenues to businesses or how many residents went bankrupt waiting 20 years for Exxon to battle paying the settlement damages.) So, basically, the financial wizards who see offshore drilling as safe and easy income are the same fools who thought housing prices and stock markets only go up. And look where that got us. (Oh yeah: stop saying there was no oil spilled during Katrina. In May 2006, the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) issued a report stating that as a result of both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the number of pipelines damaged was 457, and the number of offshore platforms destroyed was 113, with a total of 146 oil spills recorded . . .[for] a total volume of 17,652 barrels (or roughly three-quarters of a million gallons. The “major spill” in Australia this month was closer to 50,000 gallons.)

3. SHIP OF FOOLS NUMBER 3: The S.S. Let Someone Else Deal With It. This is for all the folks who realize offshore oil is terrible idea, a bad gamble financially, ecologically and ethically, but are still too lazy to do anything about it except slap a “no oil” sticker on the hookah and fill out half an online petition between hits of renewable green energy. These may be the biggest fools of all. They’re like folks who decided to wait a few more months to sell their crazily overpriced house. Who heard Bernie Madoff was a scam artist but still sent him checks. Of anyone, this is the user group with an ability to prevent the American people from being fleeced ahead of time – but can’t get off their asses to do it, even at this critical juncture where we need every healthy economic engine we got.

SO STOP PLAYING THE FOOL. If you’re a pro surfer, an industry rep, a shopowner -- or just a person working in a humble beach town -- this is your million man march. Take a day off to fill a crowded hall and show lawmakers firsthand that the coastal communities aren’t going foot the bill and assume all the risk so our planet's most profitable companies can make another few billion dollars. Because, if they get their way, we’re the pitiful fools who’ll be stuck with all the problems, hanging off our necks like a giant gold albatross. Black gold.

You can find out more on the issue at There’s another rant here. And stay tuned for ways to maximize our output beginning April 6 in AC.


  1. Matt, oil is a commodity sold on a global market and traded in dollars. I don't think this is a case of other countries willing to pay more. I think everyone pays the same price for a barrel of oil regardless. It is different for things like natural gas where there is a domestic price, and a different (higher) price for Liquid Natural Gas shipped around the world in tankers. Again, I think.
    John Weber