More Drumbeat to Drill on Federal Lands

With relatively high gas prices, oil companies, their political puppets, and media continue the reverberation suggestive of the idea that drilling for oil on federal lands will bring prices down. Framing policy issues in the media is the first step – the take comes shortly after. It seems logical that drilling on federal lands would alleviate price, especially when we’ve got better things to do than think about it. But the drop in the bucket supply on federal lands compared to world demand puts it into better perspective. The high gas prices ought be telling us it’s time to start diversifying and reducing our energy consumption – especially with as far as we’ve come with Global Climate Change. Instead, we’re still having the same tired arguments about whether or not to exploit our public land to hypothetically bring prices down for a few more months.

Drill on the HillGrist

Quest For Oil : Where to Look Is the QuestionWS Journal

Update : Opinion – Political Ploy: Cannon’s oil-shale bill wouldn’t lower gas pricesTribune Editorial






  1. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    It is ridiculous to imply that all politicians that support increasing drilling on public lands are “political puppets” of the oil industry.

    Who are you kidding? The American people overwhelmingly support drilling for oil and gas on public lands; they are against drilling in certain areas, however.

    Americans consume 20 million barrels of oil a day, and it is pure folly to think you can conserve that number away. Try to be realistic, and understand that oil is a valuable commodity whose utilizations are, in some cases, irreplaceable.

    Also, I feel the “drop in a bucket” argument is actually quite misleading as well. Take farming as an example: each farm in the U.S. provides an amount of food to the marketplace that is indeed a “drop in a bucket” compared to overall food demand. However, does that mean we don’t need any farms in the U.S.?

    Nothing personal, Brian, I possess much respect for your work and intellect; however, I hope we view the energy issues in the proper context.

    The world is indeed far behind in initiating a sincere and well-financed push for alternative energy sources. This is drastically required, but for the next decade or two oil and gas will have to be remain a vital and important source of the world’s energy.

    That translates to finding and exploiting new sources of oil and gas to meet rising global demand until new sources of energy come on line to replace them. Attractive phrases and wishful thinking don’t fuel our cars, provide industry and business with energy, or heat our homes.

  2. Moose Avatar

    It is equally ridiculous to think we will drill our way out of this…conservation is both a short-term and long-term tactic that must be better coordinated and implemented …why aren’t the American people being asked to use less? Somehow I don’t see that happening with this admin….think of what the oil stockholders would say. P.S. – how many exploratory leases do the oil co.s have in their possession right now and aren’t acting on?

  3. Brian Ertz Avatar


    I don’t take it personally SmokyMtMan, but we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

    politicians that back domestic drilling know the realities of the oil markets – and the story is no different with any industry that has its eye on our public resource — the promise of local economic stimulation – despite the long-term consequences, even to economies. And the allure of the almight lobbyists’ dollar.

    There is little doubt that the world is behind on alternative energy sources, you mention a decade – the time needed for drilling in say – ANWR – is a decade before production there could possibly offset the 86 cents per barrel drilling would accomplish there (.6%). So the “drop in the bucket” reference is merely the realization that the infrastructure development/construction necessary to uplift supply enough to offset demand is a decade down the road anyway – which is to say nothing of its economic contribution (or lack thereof) at mitigating escalating oil price.

    This is no different on other public lands, where even if you were to take out the consideration for the time for physical construction of infrastructure (which we should not do) – there are other stalls on the ability to drill away the increase of demand. One being the environmental analysis required to do it right. That takes time. Unless, we CX that analysis – or pass laws which diminish the consideration for environmental impacts. We ought not do that.

    If it’s going to take a decade either way – why not go with the technology that mitigates our addiction ?

    Additionally, there is no reason to believe that an increase in supply in America will do anything to mitigate oil price – especially when we realize that OPEC is in the business of manipulating the international oil markets — there is NO reason to believe that OPEC would not cut its production to offset our attempts at reducing fuel costs.. OPEC is doing that very thing right now. These guys benefit from these record prices.

    Whether oil drilling happens or not is not the question – but which direction we move in response to the economic pains brought by our addiction to oil is. There has been a huge groundswell of public support for alternatives — now, we see the price increase as a result of the stranglehold and manipulation various oil producers have on the production market (OPEC). Perhaps that’s coincidence – regardless, Big Oil is NOT producing anywhere near potential of wells already drilled now.

    This drum-beat to drill is shameful – it’s setting the stage for cutting into environmental law, our public lands, and the public support that has been stoked to begin the move to employ renewable and conservation technologies that will be sustainable into the future (if done right). This ought be further fodder for calls to ween off oil dependence – not invest in that addiction more. The politicians behind these things know the facts – they know that the drilling has ZERO chance of responding to public’s outcry regarding gas prices — it’s an opportunistic move to frame the issue as if drilling could do those things, to diminish our environmental protections, to turn the benefit of the ailment brought about by the oil industries away from innovative calls to move in a sustainable direction, back to the oil industry — and they have the money and the politicians to ring that echo-chamber in the MSM over and over again.

    we need a diverse portfolio of energy alternatives and strategies at mitigating consumption by employing technologies already discovered.

  4. Brian Ertz Avatar


    the idea of “energy independence” is a scam when talking about oil – unless you nationalize the oil industry (which I am a proponent of). Oil is traded in international markets – there is no reason to believe that private producers exploiting our oil on our public lands would not take that oil (or its offset production in areas more opportunistic to transport) into international markets where they’d get a prettier penny for it. That means the drop is still in the bucket mentioned above. So long as the oil industry continues to play under international laws which ensure their right to trade on the world market – there is NO SUCH THING as American oil independence.

    “Energy independence” is only achieved where by regulation or by necessity of infrastructure American’s have control of markets at production and consumption. Those markets ought be localized. That is only achievable right now with alternative energy technologies and energy conservation technologies employed at end-use.

  5. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    Thanks for the reply, Brian.

    I agree with some of your points, such as oil dependence being an impossibility, energy conservation can bring energy prices down far quicker than increased drilling, and drilling will have minimal impact on gas prices (which seems to be the main public concern right now).

    Also, we completely agree that a sound and well-directed push to develop alternative fuels should be our #1 priority instead of simply pushing for new energy development on public lands.

    I see no balance in Bush’s energy policies whatsoever. I am also dismayed at how much public land the Bush regime has rushed into energy production.

    “The administration has offered more than 40 million acres in the Rockies for oil and gas drilling and other “extractive” uses, according to the Wilderness Society, and it has done the same with 70 million acres in the Alaskan Arctic. In addition, the Forest Service estimates that development eliminates 6,000 acres of the open space every day.”

    I almost cannot believe those numbers; they are very sobering numbers, indeed. Urgent action is required if we are going to preserve our remaining public lands from this single-minded and short-sighted energy land grab. We are running out of time and land, and we can replace neither.

    Will the public wake up in time? Or will we continue down this self-destructive path of wasteful energy consumption and blind push to develop our public lands at the expense of clean air and water, healthy wildlife habitat, and our way of life?

    I wish I was more optimistic than I am.

  6. SmokyMtMan Avatar

    I would like to quickly add that I think energy development on some of our public lands is quite appropriate. On land that is vital to healthy wildlife populations or clean water sources energy development should be very limited.

    I think the U.S. requires energy development to met our domestic needs, but there are many ways to greatly reduce our dependence upon foreign energy supplies and prevent destroying the few remaining public lands we possess that has not been turned over to the energy companies.

    Raising fuel efficiency standards for automobiles can save us millions of barrels of oil per day alone. We need to responsibly develop energy sources at the same time we work very hard to promote energy conservation and alternative energy sources.

    This energy crisis we are currently confronting is a difficult and complex problem, and it reflects our nation’s leadership’s failure to develop a sensible and productive energy policy.

    Moose said “It is equally ridiculous to think we will drill our way out of this”, and that indeed is correct. It is part of the solution, but we desperately need real leadership on a national level to solve these problems.

    And Bush has completely and tragically failed to provide that for us.

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Brian Ertz