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The case for off-shore drilling

By Alan Caruba
web posted October 20, 2003

For a small State, New Jersey continues to send a large delegation of mental midgets to Washington, DC to represent it.

In the last election, Sen. Robert Torricelli, the man famed for leaking the name of a CIA agent, was yanked off the ticket at the last minute as the result of some serious ethical lapses. He was replaced with the blessing of the NJ Supreme Court by a former Senator, Frank Lautenberg, who had previously quit from the exhaustion of standing in the way of any legislation that might benefit the nation in any way. And, of course, he was elected!

So now the New Jersey delegation is up in arms over a provision to the energy bill making its way through Congress that would permit oil exploration off its coast. That means oil and gas companies could determine if it was financially feasible to tap what may represent significant reserves. The criticism leveled here is applicable to every East and West Coast delegation, so this is a national issue of importance.

Mind you, this nation desperately needs to achieve some level of energy independence. The huge oil reserves in a tiny, barren area of Alaska are still off-limits. Florida's governor fought the development of oil reserves off that State's coast. California imposed limits. And everyone complains every time the cost of gasoline goes up.

What's more, this winter, people across this nation who depend on natural gas to heat their homes and run their businesses are going to be hit with huge increases. Why? Because we are not encouraging the steps necessary to move gas from the tap to the consumer.

Leading the fight against offshore exploration in New Jersey is its largest daily newspaper, the Star-Ledger. "What was a very bad idea 25 years ago---drilling for oil and natural gas off the New Jersey coast---is gaining currency in Washington again. It remains a bad idea." Why? What is wrong with tapping our own reserves of oil and natural gas instead of being dependent on, oh say, Saudi Arabia?

"But now industry people say that new technology makes it more economical to recover supplies that were once considered beyond reach." Well, that happens to be true. "If we're going to make choices for the future energy needs of this country, we should at least know what we have," points out a spokesperson for the Independent Petroleum Association of America. Well, that happens to be true.

The Star-Ledger noted that "Environmentalists, with good reason, are not about to trust any word on the environment coming out of the Bush White House, which has never found a location where it would rule out oil drilling." And we all know how trustworthy environmentalists are, right? These are the people still trying to foist a discredited "Global Warming" theory on us, along with the notion that the oceans are rising so fast both coasts will be under water.

The genius who wrote the October 4 editorial ends saying, "As we noted before, instead of draining every natural energy resource available, the administration should first concentrate on reducing consumption, the benefits of which are far greater than tapping ever-smaller pools of oil." Wrong on both counts.

Worldwide, vast new reserves of oil and natural gas are being found all the time. This argument says we should not look for any here in the US, thus insuring we would be hostage to any other nation that taps its reserves. Meanwhile, here in the US, huge known reserves of coal, natural gas, and oil are effectively inaccessible because of environmental laws and endless new "Heritage Areas", newly designated reserves and other efforts to put and keep them off-limits.

More importantly, you cannot "conserve" your way to less energy use. It cannot be done. For an industrialized, advanced economy to grow, it must use more energy. Energy resources that are not tapped simply drive up the overall cost of energy.

Finally, the argument is advanced that the New Jersey shore would be devastated if a few oil and natural gas rigs popped up on the horizon. This is not going to happen and everyone knows it. Someone needs to sit this delegation of dunces down and explain the rule of supply and demand.

Alan Caruba is the author of "Warning Signs" whose weekly commentaries are posted on www.anxietycenter.com, the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba 2003

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